Man charged in crash that killed 'Nova student, injured another

Posted: October 01, 2010

HE ENTERED the courtroom as wide-eyed as a preschooler and dressed like one, in a blue Cookie Monster hoodie.

But Kenneth Woods is more monstrous than any Muppet, Delaware County authorities said yesterday.

They charged Woods, 21, of West Philadelphia, with murder, vehicular homicide, driving with a suspended license and related offenses for the crash in Bryn Mawr early Wednesday that killed a Villanova University student and critically injured another.

Delaware County Magisterial District Judge Elisa Lacianca set bail at $1 million.

Haverford Township Police Chief Carmen Pettine said investigators found Woods' palm print and cell phone in the stolen 2008 black Range Rover that rear-ended a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, at more than 100 mph, at Haverford and Rugby roads shortly after midnight.

Daniel Giletta, 21, of Wyckoff, N.J., was driving the Jetta and died in its twisted wreckage. His passenger and roommate, Frank Patrick DiChiara, remained in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Besides Woods' palm print that police said they lifted from the Range Rover's rear passenger-side exterior window, Pettine said, the Samsung cell phone contained a photo of a man who appeared to be Woods.

Further, Haverford Officer Thomas McDermott, who tried to stop the stolen Range Rover before the wreck, identified Woods from a photo lineup, Pettine said.

Authorities would not say whether they believed that Woods was the driver or had any accomplices in the car at the time of the crash. They also declined to say whether they have identified who stole the Range Rover, which belonged to a doctor, from a Radnor Township parking lot Tuesday night.

Woods and his supporters, meanwhile, say he's the victim of a rush to judgment.

"I really don't - I have no clue what happened," Woods told Judge Lacianca in court.

Later, as officers led him from court to a waiting patrol car, he said: "It's not my cell phone. That wasn't me. It wasn't me. I didn't do anything. That's not my picture. If y'all look closely and see the picture, you would see it wasn't me."

Police did not release the cell phone photo they say shows Woods.

Woods' supporters said he was hanging out with friends near 40th and Parrish streets in West Philadelphia several hours before the fatal wreck Tuesday night, when a man, whose name the Daily News is withholding because he hasn't been charged, drove up in the Range Rover.

That person, who has a lengthy rap-sheet in the city and suburbs, has been arrested twice for motor vehicle theft and was sentenced in 2000 to 11 months to a year in jail, according to court records.

The Daily News talked with four people yesterday who said they saw Woods walk over to admire the car and hop inside to help the driver operate the CD player. Woods spent the rest of the night with friends and family, they said.

"If he smashed into a car at 100 mph, wouldn't he be hurt?" said one relative, who declined to give his name. Woods had no visible injuries when he appeared in court.

Pettine, other Haverford police officials and Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green couldn't be reached for comment late yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, Pettine said police arrested Woods without incident about 11:05 p.m. Wednesday as he sat on the porch at his neat, three-story, red-brick home on Aspen Street near 40th.

Court records show he has two prior adult arrests for simple assault and marijuana possession; charges in those cases were withdrawn for unspecified reasons. He also was arrested in January for a summary charge of smoking in a prohibited place and completed a diversionary program, records show.

Woods started work Wednesday at a McDonald's, according to a woman who identified herself as his mother.

"He was just trying to do the right thing so he could take care of his 4-year-old son," she said.

"This is just terrible. I haven't been to sleep. I can't go to sleep."

Staff writer Jan Ransom contributed to this report.

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