Suspect in Fatal Hit-and-Run Panicked: Attorney

Police have arrested the suspected driver in a hit-and-run that killed a pedestrian on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard near Orange Avenue in New Haven late last month.

Isaac Cintron, 22, of New Haven, turned himself in to New Haven Police Monday night and appeared in court on Wednesday.

Police said he confessed to driving the 1997 red Honda Civic DX involved in the hit-and-run that killed Frank Aceto, 49, of Wallingford, late last month. Officers had recovered the vehicle on July 2 in the backyard of 84 Frank Street in the city.

Cintron told police that he had been meaning to turn himself in for a while but was scared so he delayed doing so. He is facing felony charges.

His attorney Rick Silverstein said his client panicked and that if he had stopped, he wouldn't have been charged, because the victim's friend said the victim crossed the street during a green light.

But prosecutors said Cintron took extra steps to cover his actions.

A police officer said the car involved was found covered with a tarp, and an officer who was responding to another incident spotted it. Police said the car's VIN had also been scratched off.

Aceto was crossing the road with a friend when he was hit by a small red Honda, police said.

Police recovered the sideview mirror from the scene and used it to identify the car's color, make and model, police said.

"This is a sad case all around," said New Haven police Det. Jeff Goodwin. "Had the driver remained at the scene, things would have been much different. He would have been charged, but not with such serious crimes."

Aceto's friend who was walking with him that night, Thomas Manning, stopped for traffic but couldn't get to Aceto in time, according to police. 

"He was hit so hard and so fast," Manning told NBC Connecticut on Wednesday. "We saw a car off in the distance, just the headlights, and we thought, 'Oh, it's safe to cross.'"

Police haven't determined whether speed was a factor, but Manning said the car seemed to come out of nowhere.

"I heard an engine rev and before I knew it, the friend four feet in front of me disappeared, disappeared like a magic trick," Manning said. "[The driver] just went straight through, didn't stop, didn't pause, didn't tap his brake lights or anything until he got to the red light down there."

Police said that Aceto might be homeless and were not able to reach a family member as of Wednesday morning. His last known address was in Wallingford.

Cintron was charged with felony evading responsibility for reportedly leaving the scene of the crash, tampering with physical evidence, operating an uninsured car, driving with a suspended licence, misuse of marker plates and mutilating a vehicle identification number.

His family declined to comment on Wednesday.

Cintron is being held on $100,000 for the evading charge and an additional $2,500 for another motor vehicle charge.

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