Edward Orr, was who accused in October's fatal hit-and-run in Amagansett, pleaded guilty Wednesday during his second appearance in Suffolk County Criminal Court.
Orr, 30, withdrew his previous plea of not guilty and entered a guilty plea to the felony charges of tampering with physical evidence and leaving the scene of an accident, in which John Judge, a 61-year-old pedestrian, lost his life. Orr also pleaded guilty to a violation of probation on a set of previous charges.
A misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal mischief, related to an accident Orr allegedly staged to try and explain the damage to his Jeep before he got rid of it, was dismissed in satisfaction of his plea.
Gordon Ryan, Orr's attorney, said the case was "fast-tracked" for several reasons.
"The East Hampton Town Police detective squad had overwhelming evidence — irrefutable evidence," Ryan said on Wednesday, adding, "Mr. Orr also signed a five-page confession."
The Suffolk County District Attorney's office said Wednesday evening that they will recommend 2 to 6 years in prison at his sentencing on April 24. The top charge of leaving the scene of an accident in which a fatality occurre is a class D felony that is punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
“For three and a half months East Hampton Town Police Department detectives worked tenaciously to find and apprehend this defendant. Their determination and skill are the reasons Mr. Orr was brought to justice,” District Attorney Thomas Spota said.
Unable to make a $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond bail, which was first set by the local court and then reaffirmed after a grand jury indictment, Orr has been in custody since the day after his Feb. 7 arrest. Defendants awaiting trial are held at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead or Yaphank.
Ryan said his client wants to get to an Upstate prison. "Doing jail time is better Upstate," he said. "He's doing OK, but he'd rather get Upstate as soon as possible."
Asked to explain what happened the night of Oct. 23, Ryan said that his client told police he thought he hit a deer as he traveled east on Main Street in Amagansett. "He pulled over by the yellow-flashing light by the school and didn't see anything," Ryan said. "A few days later he read the papers — he panicked."
"Everyone assumes he was intoxicated, but we have proof he was drug free," Ryan said. Orr was returning home from an appointment at Phoenix House in East Hampton, Ryan said. "He was clean and sober."
There were no witnesses to the accident. Judge was found on the ground by the tire of a parked truck right across from Astro's Pizza, his best friend's restaurant, where he had just enjoyed dinner as usual.
An investigation spanned more than three months. Police said they tracked down Orr and his vehicle by using paint chips and shattered fragments of a headlight.
"Had he surrendered in a day or so after it happened, it would be a completely different scenario for him," Ryan said.
Instead, police said Orr staged a second accident to try and cover up the damage to his Jeep. He also had it voluntarily repossessed. Police found it in an auction lot in New Jersey. The damage had not yet been repaired.
Suffolk County Judge William Condon will sentence Orr on April 24, as long as there are no surprises in his pre-sentencing report, Ryan said.