Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Falsely Named as Villanova Killer, Man Says

(CN) - A man says in federal court that police falsely charged him with killing a Villanova student in a fatal hit-and-run, leading the media to brand him as the Nova Killer.

In 2010, a man stole a Range Rover in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and crashed the SUV into a Volkswagen Jetta carrying two Villanova students. One of the students, Daniel Giletta, 22, was killed in the accident. The other, Frank DiChiara, 22, was critically injured.

The Range Rover driver fled on foot, but a handprint on side of the car quickly led police to Kenneth Woods.

After he was arrested for third-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and fleeing the police, the 21-year-old Woods maintained that he was innocent.

He reportedly told the judge in a preliminary hearing: "I have no clue what's happening. The judge set bail at $1 million.

Two days after the arrest, however, 29-year-old Donnie Sayers reportedly turned himself in and confessed that he was alone in the Range Rover, drinking and smoking PCP before the crash.

Cleared of all wrongdoing, Woods has now filed suit against Philadelphia Detective T. McCool; the Haverford Township Police Department and its personnel: Police Chief Carmen Pettine, Sgt. Daniel Wallower, Detective Jere Goodman and Officer Thomas McDermott.

"Plaintiff, Kenneth Woods, was falsely, unlawfully, and without reasonable suspicion and probable cause branded the 'Nova Killer' all over various newspapers and television reports; in short, he was wrongfully blamed for the tragic death and injury of two Villanova students," according to the complaint in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Woods says Pettine "knew or should have known of the aforesaid actions and inactions of all the other defendant police officers named in this matter and stopped them from arresting" him.

"As a result of the defendants' conduct of the defendant, Kenneth Woods felt afraid, defenseless, helpless, terrorized, and threatened; he was also embarrassed and humiliated for being labeled the 'Nova Killer' by various media outlets," the complaint states.

"As a result of the aforesaid actions and inactions of the defendants, plaintiff, Kenneth Woods suffered and will continue to suffer great mental anguish, physical pain, depression, nervousness, humiliation, personality change and a loss of natural enjoyment of life and life's pleasures."

Woods seeks punitive damages for violations of his civil rights, false arrest, malicious prosecution and emotional distress.

He is represented by Holly Dobrosky with the Law Offices of Guy Sciolla.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.