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Man charged in fatal hit-and-run

Part found under victim May 7 led to vehicle belonging to Wilkes-Barre man, police say.

WILKES-BARRE – A recently completed forensic analysis of part of a vehicle left at the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash in May led police on Tuesday to charge a city man in connection with the death.

Daniel Ashton, 48, of Horton Street, was charged with accidents involving death or personal injury, a third degree felony, and two summary offenses in connection with the death of Joan Kukosky.

Kukosky, 45, was struck as she walked along Pennsylvania Avenue near the Builders Supply Co. at around 12:02 a.m. May 7. The driver fled the scene and she was found by a passing motorist. She was transported to an area hospital, where she died May 9.

According to an arrest affidavit:

Ashton contacted police a few days after local newspapers printed stories in which police asked for public assistance in tracking down the driver. Police suspected the vehicle that struck Kukosky was a 1998-2000 Jeep Wrangler based on a piece of a turning signal lens that was found beneath Kukosky’s body, and asked that any body shops asked to repair damage to that type of vehicle contact police.

Ashton told police he had been in the area at the time Kukosky was struck and that his vehicle had damage, but he did not know how the damage occurred. He agreed to allow police to search the vehicle, which was located at HMS Auto Repair on Spring Street.

Upon seizing the vehicle, police discovered an attempt was made to repair and conceal a dent in the hood and damage to the vehicle’s paint. The repairs were attempted before the vehicle was taken to the body shop.

Police sent the turn signal housing found at the scene to the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab, which matched the lens to Ashton’s vehicle.

Ashton was arraigned before District Judge Martin Kane and released on $10,000 unsecured bail. He faces a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 11.

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