Chase driver is due in court — (NJ.com True Jersey)

Original article no longer available

NJ.com True Jersey

Saturday, November 27, 2004

By Ronald Leir, Journal staff writer

Is Bayonne man competent for trial in February incident?

The Bayonne man who in February took police on a perilous, 50-mile televised car chase from rural Hunterdon County to his father’s driveway off Avenue E in Bayonne is due in court on Monday.

John Dobrowolski, 27, will appear before state Superior Court Judge Joseph Charles at 9:30 a.m. to deal with pre-trial issues pertaining to the Feb. 12 chase, including his state of mind during the time leading up to the flight.

He will be represented by a new attorney, Blair Zwillman, of the Woodbridge law firm, Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer.

The court is expected to receive a report from Zwillman detailing the status of a private psychiatric evaluation of his client.

Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Robert Lane, who is preparing the state’s case against Dobrowolski, said that he’s unaware of any history of psychiatric problems involving the defendant that might bear on this case.

Zwillman declined to comment.

Interviewed last spring, Dobrolwolski’s sister, Grace Denton, said prior to the incident her brother had been depressed, withdrawn, and even delusional. He had also recently quit his job.

Denton said two months before the chase, worried for her brother’s health, she had taken him to the Jersey City Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation. He was subsequently prescribed sleeping pills and antidepressants. Denton said she believed the wrong combination of medications prompted her brother’s actions on Feb. 12.

Dobrowolski faces a 28-count indictment that includes two charges of attempted murder and lesser charges that included aggravated assault on police officers and civilians, eluding police, resisting arrest and possession of a weapon.

After his arrest, Dobrowolski was given a mental evaluation at the Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton. The results of the testing will likely determine, in some measure, whether Dobrowolski is deemed competent to stand trial.

Although the chase spanned Hunterdon, Somerset, Essex and Hudson counties all of the complaints were consolidated for trial in Hudson County.

Lane said that family members put up property as collateral to post $500,000 bond and secure Dobrowolski’s release from jail, pending his trial.

Police said Dobrowolski’s troubles with the law began during a road rage incident in Readington Township where he allegedly rear-ended another driver. The second driver later told police that Dobrowolski got out of his sport utility vehicle and attacked him with a pool cue and then tried to run him over before speeding away in his Jeep Cherokee.

Police from various jurisdictions followed Dobrowolski north on Route 202, then on Route 287 North and on Route 280 East, with Dobrowolski at times driving on the wrong side of the highway, through Kearny and Jersey City to Route 440 South into Bayonne.

Police said Dobrowolski twice ran into a Kearny police officer, shot at police officers and injured two civilians.

Zwillman is Dobrowolski’s third lawyer. His family previously retained – and later replaced – Dennis McAlevy of Union City and Michael Sluka of Jersey City.

Ronald Leir covers Bayonne. He can be reached at rleir@jjournal.com.