Prosecutors alleged in court earlier this week that a local young woman, who was pre-occupied with texting a friend while driving on Central Street two years ago, hit an 81-year-old pedestrian crossing the street, leaving the senior citizen fatally injured in the middle of the roadway as she fled from the scene.
An anonymous tip led to the arrest of Steffany Barbanti, 24, of 10 Cedar Glen Circle, by Saugus Police last Saturday. She was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury resulting in death.
Barbanti, a hairdresser by profession, entered a not guilty plea in Lynn District Court when she was arraigned Monday.
Bail was set at $7,500. A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for March 16.
The victim of fatal hit-and-run that occurred in the late afternoon of Jan. 28, 2010 was Christos Agganis, who was walking across the street to have dinner at the Hammersmith Inn Restaurant, owned and operated by members of his family.
The arrest of Barbanti came two years to the day after the tragic accident, and within days after the search for the driver of the car that killed Agganis was featured in a “Crime Stoppers” feature on Fox TV-25 by reporter Bob Ward.
It was during that television show that the reward for information in the case was doubled to $10,000.
Witnesses at the time of the accident told police that Agganis was struck by “a dark car or a small or medium-sized sports utility vehicle”.
The recent anonymous tip that cracked the case open maintained that the involved vehicle was not a dark car, but rather was a white Acura belonging to Barbanti. The tipster also said the car’s damaged windshield had been replaced.
Police reportedly found some small pieces of broken glasses in Barbanti’s car, along with a work order to have her windshield replaced shortly after the fatal accident occurred.
Saugus Police say that they have learned that one of Barbanti’s friends received several phone calls and text messages from her on the night of the accident.
Upon questioning by police, that friend reportedly claimed that she met with Barbanti that same night. Barbanti, according to the friend, admitted hitting someone with her car.
When the friend urged her to turn herself in to police, Barbanti allegedly said she couldn’t because she was too scared.
Barbanti’s lawyer, Alfred Farese, Jr., of Everett, after her arraignment Monday, told reporters that his client wasn’t involved in the accident, insisting that she had nothing to do with it.
Atty. Farese noted that for two years the police maintained that a black or dark car was the vehicle that killed Agganis – now all of a sudden it’s supposedly a white car.