By Camille Furst
Candice Buno-Sot is still fighting for justice for her son.
On Dec. 2, 2018, Michael T. Sot, a student at the College and resident of Clark, was killed when 23-year-old David Lamar allegedly drove intoxicated, crossed the center line and collided head-on with Sot, who was the designated driver for his friends that night.
Lamar was indicted on aggravated manslaughter, death by auto and six counts of assault by auto charges by a Mercer County grand jury on June 26, 2019, according to The Trentonian.
“We’re going on our third judge in September. We’re on our second prosecutor. We’re on our second victim advocate. And we’re just not happy,” Buno-Sot said. “We just feel that the community of Mercer County really needs to understand that not only does this affect Michael, this affects the whole community. This is something that’s going to be ongoing. We need to feel protected.”
With meetings delayed for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Buno-Sot was finally able to have a meeting at the Mercer County courthouse on Friday, Aug. 14, where she expected to set a date for trial and begin the process of virtual jury selection.
Instead, what she describes as a technicality prevented this from happening. Twenty minutes of oral arguments in the grand jury testimony were not transcribed. Buno-Sot would have to wait again.
Four days later, she received a call from the prosecutor who, in the middle of their conversation, mentioned that Lamar had been released from house arrest back in July.
Just after the phone call ended, Buno-Sot informed her son’s friends. Only minutes afterward, Vin Crisafi, one of Sot’s childhood friends, created a petition to jail Lamar. In under 48 hours, the petition, titled “Lock Up David Lamar,” has garnered over 4,700 signatures. New signatures continue to be added every few minutes.
In a detention hearing from Dec. 11, 2018, a judge ordered Lamar to be released from jail and instead put on home detention with electronic monitoring and remote breathalyzer tests four times a day, along with surrendering his driver’s license and driving privileges, according to the spokesperson for Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Casey DeBlasio.
Last month, Superior Court Judge Timothy Lydon modified the conditions, removing the house arrest and electronic monitoring order while keeping the other conditions the same.
When Buno-Sot’s prosecutor, Michael Grillo, was made aware of the modified conditions, he filed a motion to object. Buno-Sot has not been given a reason why the conditions were modified.
“I just couldn’t wrap my head around it,” she said.
Since the petition formed, students from the College and members of the Clark community have been spreading the petition on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Buno-Sot and Crisafi are pleased, but not surprised at the overwhelming response.
“I didn’t think it would happen this quick,” Crisafi said. “But at the same time I’m not surprised that this petition got so many signatures, because Mike had an impact on so many people.”
Sot’s loved ones are hoping to see justice served — and for them, this petition is a start. Buno-Sot struggles with it every day, but tries to focus on her other three children and her job as a nurse.
“I could easily be a recluse, but it would be of no justice to my son, Michael, who would want me to be out here, saying his name, advocating for what happened to him,” she said. “I want to get justice for my son.”