Sunday, September 21, 2014
Loading...





NY teen gets 5 to 15 years for wreck that killed 4

NY teen who admitted being high on pot gets 5 to 15 years for wreck that killed 4 friends

Posted on Aug. 26, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 26, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A New York City man who was high on marijuana and speeding at over 100 mph when he crashed his brand-new sports car into a tree on a Long Island highway, killing four of his friends, has been sentenced to 5-to-15 years in prison.

Joseph Beer, now 19, apologized to the victims’ families in a two-page statement he read Tuesday prior to being sentenced by Nassau County Court Judge David Sullivan. The judge rejected a defense motion to give Beer a four-year sentence as a youthful offender; he was 17 at the time of the crash.

“There isn’t a day when I don’t beg God for his forgiveness,” Beer said as his hands trembled at the defense table describing the deaths of his friends, whom he called brothers. “I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive myself.”

Beer pleaded guilty in July to the top count of aggravated vehicular homicide in the fiery crash on the Southern State Parkway. He was driving faster than 100 mph, prosecutors said, when he smashed into a tree on a stretch of highway dubbed Dead Man’s Curve because of a treacherous hill that leads to a sharp curve.

All four passengers — 18-year-olds Christopher Khan, Peter Kanhai and Darian Ramnarine, and 17-year-old Neal Rajapa, all of Richmond Hill, Queens, were killed instantly in the fiery crash.

The wreck at about 4 a.m. on the Columbus Day holiday in October 2012 cut the high-performance Subaru in half. Glass, debris and other car parts were strewn along a wooded area adjacent to a nearby neighborhood street, where neighbors described being awakened by the sound of a loud explosion.

Beer was the lone survivor and had only minor injuries.

Bryant Barr, stepfather of victim Peter Kanhai, said after the sentencing that it was “a tragedy on both sides,” including for Beer’s family. Barr said his family “can find forgiveness in our heart” even though he thought Beer exhibited “a lack of remorse.”

Sharon Rajapa, the mother of Neal Rajapa, said of the sentence: “Whatever it is, it’s not going to bring back my son. My son is already dead and that is never going to change if he has 10 years, 15 years, or 25 years. There is no remorse there, but I have to move on for my son to have peace.”

A jury in June convicted Beer of manslaughter, but deadlocked on the vehicular homicide charge. A month later, Beer decided to plead guilty to spare the families of his friends who died the ordeal of a second trial, his attorney said.

Beer also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of marijuana. Defense attorney Todd Greenberg had argued that unlike blood-alcohol standards for drunken driving, police and prosecutors have yet to develop a reliable measurement for impairment from marijuana.

An expert testified that because Beer was a chronic marijuana smoker, his body’s ability to process the active ingredient in marijuana may be different from someone who is an occasional user.

Before imposing sentence, the judge noted weeks after the crash, Beer had his bail revoked because he failed a drug test for marijuana. “He must be punished,” Sullivan said, calling the crash, “one of the most horrific scenes in the county’s history.”




Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
 This undated booking photo provided by the Madera, Calif., County Jail shows Roel Soliz, 29. Soliz is one of five inmates who escaped from the jail in the Central Valley city of Madera, Calif., late Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. The five were being held on various charges including attempted murder and armed robbery. It's unclear how the men, who are believed to be gang members, escaped from the jail. Authorities say all five men should be considered armed and dangerous. (AP Photo/Madera County Jail)

Updated 1 hour ago
 In this artist concept provided by NASA, the MAVEN spacecraft approaches Mars on a mission to study its upper atmosphere. When it arrives on Sunday Sept. 21, 2014, MAVEN's 442 million mile journey from Earth will culminate with a dramatic engine burn, pulling the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit. It's designed to circle the planet, not land. (AP Photo/NASA)

Updated 2 hours ago
Back to top ^