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D.A.: Passenger took the fall for driver in pedestrian's death

WHEN A HIGH SCHOOL wrestler was fatally hit by a car last month as he stood in a Lower Pottsgrove street waiting to cross, it seemed like a tragic

WHEN A HIGH SCHOOL wrestler was fatally hit by a car last month as he stood in a Lower Pottsgrove street waiting to cross, it seemed like a tragic


But Timothy Anthony Paciello Jr., 16, was killed by an allegedly drunk driver, who then conspired with his sober passenger to pretend she'd been behind the wheel, Montgomery County authorities said Monday.

And it wasn't the first time the driver, Robert Norman Sitler Jr., 43, killed someone with his car, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

In April 2004, Sitler was driving a concrete-mixer truck in Alabama when he crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a car driven by a Baldwin County, Ala., commissioner, killing her, according to news reports.

Alcohol was involved in that wreck too, according to news reports. Tests showed Sitler's blood-alcohol level at between 0.01 and 0.03 percent - within the legal limits in Alabama.

He told police after the November incident that he had been convicted of vehicular homicide-manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the affidavit. It's unclear how much of his sentence he served.

Monday, police arrested Sitler and his accomplice, Denise Dinnocenti, both of Collegeville, for their alleged roles in Paciello's death Nov. 12.

The night he was killed, Paciello had crossed the westbound lane of High Street at Sunnyside Avenue and paused in the center left-turn-only lane, waiting for eastbound traffic to clear, Ferman said.

But Sitler was coming in his Chevy Silverado pickup truck, according to the affidavit.

After tailgating a minivan, Sitler tried to pass the van as it turned right by veering into the center lane - and instead struck Paciello, according to the affidavit.

Afterward, Dinnocenti and Sitler huddled in a nearby parking lot to plot the deception, and later both told police that she'd been driving "because she knew where they were going and Sitler had consumed several beers," Ferman said.

The day after the wreck, both filed an insurance claim listing Dinnocenti, 42, as the driver, according to the affidavit.

Their story soon unraveled, and in interviews with police Nov. 17, Dinnocenti and Sitler admitted that they had lied about who had been driving and instructed Dinnocenti's two adolescent sons, who were in the back seat that night, to lie to police too, according to the affidavit. She and Sitler acknowledged that they wanted to hide Sitler's intoxication and involvement in the 2004 crash, according to the affidavit.

Investigators determined Sitler had been driving 15 to 25 miles an hour over the posted 35-mph limit, according to the affidavit.

Both now are charged with insurance fraud, false reports, corruption of minors and related offenses. Sitler also is charged with homicide by vehicle, speeding and reckless driving, court records show.

Paciello studied electrical engineering at Lower Pottsgrove High School's Western Center. He played the guitar and drums and hoped to become a musician, according to his obituary.