• Lynda Cohen

Man pleads guilty in fatal expressway crash

Updated: Apr 23

A Camden county man admitted Monday to being under the influence of alcohol in a 2017 crash that killed his passenger and injured two people in another car on the Atlantic City Expressway. In a tearful court appearance, Luis Cream pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the crash that killed 34-year-old Jalina Steele, who was a passenger in his car. He also pleaded to fourth-degree assault by auto for injuring the two other people in the car he struck Nov. 19, 2017 on the expressway in Hamilton Township. Cream was charged and arrested in December, more than a year after the crash. He could have faced 13 years in prison on the second-degree vehicular homicide charge. But under the plea agreement, the state has agreed that any sentence would not exceed six years. His defense attorney, Sara Weinstock, will argue for less time when he is sentenced Nov. 7. Cream, 36, said he was driving home when the crash occurred. He told Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury that he had one drink before driving. “It must have been a big one because you were under the influence,” DeLury replied.

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Cream wiped his eyes at times during the hearing, shaking his head no as he answered yes when asked questions by the judge, including whether he caused Steele’s death. Cream’s two young sons, his fiancee and ex-wife were in the courtroom to support him, along Steele’s sister. Weinstock argued for Cream to be released pending his sentencing, saying that he has been in jail since Christmas Eve and remained law-abiding for the more than year between the crash and his arrest. Cream’s mother, who has attended his previous court dates”, was not there because she is ill and the outlook is “grim,” Weinstock said. She noted that Cream lost his grandmother while incarcerated, and was denied release for her funeral at that time. Cream’s driving record includes four previous driving while intoxicated convictions since 2007 and four driving while suspended convictions since 2006, Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey said in arguing against release. He also noted Cream’s criminal history includes eight arrests, with two indictable convictions and a juvenile adjudication. DeLury, who just took over the case, denied the request this time but said if Cream’s mother’s condition worsens or if she dies, the judge would grant him a furlough to tend to her in her final days and attend the funeral. Cream turned to his family and sadly mouthed an expletive as the judge denied his release. Anytime he is given will be under the No Early Release Act, meaning he would have to serve at least 85 percent before he is eligible for parole.

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