Pennsylvania ‘Idol’ hopeful’s fatal accident remains mystery

Whether you love the hit reality show “American Idol” or love to hate it, most people have at least seen some of the audition segments of the show. If you were watching either season seven or eight, you might have seen a woman who has met a more tragic ending than merely not making the reality program’s cut.

In July of 2009, the twice talent show hopeful from Pennsylvania was found dead on a New Jersey street. She had been fatally injured in a hit-and-run car accident, though the mystery regarding the identity of the drunk driver remains. For a while, it looked as though the culprit was already in custody.

According to reports, around the same time and in the same area where the 25-year-old crash victim’s body was found, another 25-year-old was attempting to escape police while driving drunk. He was eventually apprehended and arrested, but things won’t turn out as seriously for the defendant as it once seemed.

On Monday, the defendant reportedly accepted a plea deal in this case. He was initially charged with various crimes, including aggravated manslaughter, death by auto, leaving the scene of an accident and more. He confessed to police that he hit the crash victim. But due to alleged unethical questioning processes, it turns out that his admission is void and likely false. The defendant claims that he was “browbeaten” into confessing. Plus, he hadn’t been given his rights regarding his right to an attorney and his right to not answer questions.

In the end, the defendant agreed to plead guilty to drunk driving and eluding police. But this blog isn’t about criminal charges. While this story is primarily about the criminal matters of this car accident, it also highlights how important ethical investigative work is in such situations. By getting the wrong person to admit to causing an accident that he didn’t cause, the investigators likely ended there and, therefore, failed to work harder and identify the true identity of the person who killed the victim. If she has surviving family around, they deserve to know who’s responsible for their loss in order to move on and try to seek justice on behalf of their loved one.


Asbury Park Press: “Charges dismissed against Toms River man in death of ‘American Idol’ hopeful Alexis Cohen,” Nov. 29, 2011

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