The justice system has been a revolving door that may finally have come to a stop on Friday for the driver accused of running over and killing John Judge on Amagansett Main Street in October. East Hampton Town Justice Catherine Cahill set bail that day for Edward L. Orr of Montauk at $250,000 cash.
This is at least the sixth time in the last five years that Mr. Orr, 30, has been arrested. Four of the arrests resulted in convictions; at least three were alcohol-related, according to court records and police reports. One charge was a felony.
During Friday’s arraignment, Mr. Orr appeared dazed. Elena Lupo, a friend of Mr. Judge who was in court during the proceedings, said she saw him look back at his parents, Anita and Edward F. Orr III, who were seated in the last row of the courtroom, and mouth the words, “What the [expletive] am I doing here?”
On Monday, a grand jury indicted him on a felony charge of fleeing the scene of an accident where the driver had good reason to know there was an injury, said Dan Cronin, an assistant county district attorney who has handled the case to date. More charges may be brought over the next few weeks.
Asked if he would be able to post bail, the elder Mr. Orr looked down and shook his head no.
“They never stopped. They kept on it,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Eddie Ecker said of the long investigation that ended in Mr. Orr’s arrest.
For seven hours after Mr. Judge’s body was found slumped against the wheel-well of an SUV parked on the eastbound side of the street opposite Astro Pizza, town detectives, along with a county forensics team, combed the roadway, which was closed to traffic, for the slightest slivers of wreckage from the car. It was apparent at the time that the car had front-end damage, the chief said.
Some motorists complained that night about the long delays, but in the end the police had gathered enough evidence to form a rough description of the car, which they said was a dark SUV-type vehicle.
State Department of Motor Vehicles records indicated there were about 1,500 cars here that were possible matches, the chief said.
According to Detective Lt. Chris Anderson, the police painstakingly examined cars that might match the debris they had collected. “We didn’t zero in on any one vehicle. We examined between 60 and 70 possible matches” across several jurisdictions, Detective Anderson said, before coming across the 2004 Jeep Cherokee belonging to Mr. Orr. It was the same vehicle he had been driving when he was arrested on the drunken-driving charge in 2008.
The Jeep was in an auction lot in New Jersey. Its damage was consistent with what detectives were looking for.
Finding the car was not enough, though. The police would have to place the driver at the scene of the accident. It took time, but in the end Mr. Orr’s cellphone records did just that, police said.
Detective Anderson said the police have been in possession of the car for some time, and indicated that the investigation is ongoing. It could expand to include anyone who aided Mr. Orr, he said.
The word in Montauk is that Mr. Orr stayed there that night and drove the Jeep to New Jersey, where he also lives, the next day, eluding a massive manhunt by local police, who brought in county helicopters to aid in the search.
In early 2008, Mr. Orr was convicted of fleeing a police officer after leading the police on a chase in Montauk. That summer, an order of protection was issued for his parents, who were concerned about his heavy drinking, reports indicated. When the parents called a few days later to say he had violated the order of protection, a patrolman spotted Mr. Orr driving the Jeep and pulled him over, leading to the drunken-driving arrest and conviction. It was in the middle of the day. Mr. Orr had reportedly been drinking Captain Morgan rum.
In 2009, he was working for Marshall’s Fuels in Montauk when he was arrested for embezzling company funds. He was convicted of felony grand larceny and sentenced to five years’ probation.
On a November afternoon in 2011, police were summoned to his parents’ Montauk residence. Officers reported that his father had his back turned, unloading his car, when someone grabbed him from behind and put him in a chokehold. The elder Mr. Orr realized it was his son when he heard him say, “How do you like this?”
The son let go after about 30 seconds, but ran into the house and came out brandishing two knives. The father ran to a neighbor’s house and waited for the police. His son, he told them, was angry because the elder Orr had told his probation officer he had been drinking excessively, in violation of the terms of his probation.
Mr. Orr served six months in the county jail over that time period, according to Michael Sharkey, chief of staff of the County Sheriff’s Office. He has been in and out of alcohol-abuse treatment centers.
“I couldn’t go to court,” said Tony Lupo, the owner of Astro’s, where Mr. Judge had picked up a to-go order minutes before he was killed. The two men were close friends. “If I would’ve went, I would’ve choked him,” Mr. Lupo said of Mr. Orr. “They would’ve had to arrest me.”
Neither Detective Anderson nor Mr. Cronin would confirm a published report that Mr. Orr has confessed.