‘Two-time felon’ faces Riverhead judge

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Joseph Plummer, 48, of Middle Island, plead not guilty in Riverhead Town Justice Court Wednesday.

A 48-year-old Middle Island man arrested in connection with last week’s fatal hit-and-run accident in downtown Riverhead pleaded not guilty to charges in Town Justice Court Wednesday.

Joseph Plummer is facing charges for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving the death of a pedestrian, a felony.

The victim, Scott Wyte of Brookhaven, was celebrating his 50th birthday with family and attempting to cross East Main Street when he was struck by two cars and died Friday evening.

Mr. Plummer is being held at the Suffolk County correctional facility. He’s due back in court Thursday at 2 p.m.

Judge Allen Smith told Mr. Plummer, who wore a blue sweatshirt and jeans to his arraignment, that he couldn’t receive bail because he’s a “two-time felon.”

Details about Mr. Plummer’s previous convictions weren’t immediately available.

Mr. Plummer said during his arraignment that he has worked seasonally for the past 27 years for a Middle Island pool company and couldn’t afford to hire an attorney.

Judge Smith said Mr. Plummer qualified for legal assistance since he claimed to make less than $10,000 last year.

Mr. Plummer was arrested after an investigation led to the location of the 1999 Saturn involved in the 5:40 p.m. accident in front of Cliff’s Rondezvous bar and restaurant.

Mr. Wayte was attempting to cross East Main Street from north to south when he was struck by Mr. Plummer’s westbound vehicle, police said. That impact sent Mr. Wayte into the eastbound lane, where he was struck again by a second vehicle, a 2006 Honda Pilot, driven by Ernest Austin, 53, of Glen Rock, Pa.

Mr. Austin continued driving eastbound for a short distance until he realized he struck someone and came to a stop near the Riverhead Stationary, according to police.

Mr. Wayte was pinned underneath the Honda when police first arrived at the scene and was pronounced dead by a responding paramedic from the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance.

Mr. Austin was not charged in relation to the accident.

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