RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Long Island man is now charged with second-degree murder in an alleged drunken driving crash that killed a recent high school graduate.
An 11-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday against Michael Grasing, 31, of Babylon. He pleaded not guilty.
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Grasing was driving at speeds approaching 100 mph when he ran two red lights and swerved through traffic before striking Brittney Walsh‘s car, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.
The impact of the crash caused Walsh’s car to flip multiple times before striking a utility police, police said.
Walsh died at the scene.
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The 18-year-old had just graduated with an advanced Regents diploma from Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School.
“Brittney Walsh never had a chance,” Spota said after the court appearance, with the teenager’s family standing behind him. “Grasing clearly had a total disregard for the value of any human life.”
Prosecutors said a bystander at a fast-food restaurant had noticed that Grasing was intoxicated and told him not to drive.
“The actions of the defendant and the decisions of the defendant to continue to drive and not to pull over cries out for the crime of murder in the second degree,” Spota said.
The teenager’s father, Thomas Walsh, said the family understands that obtaining a murder conviction might be difficult because it happens rarely, but he appreciated the district attorney’s efforts. “Regardless of what happens in that courtroom, it will never bring my little girl back,” he said.
Grasing’s bail has been set at $1 million cash or $2 million bond. His attorney declined to comment.
It’s uncommon for a fatal crash to result in a murder charge. Martin Heidgen was convicted in Nassau County of murder after driving the wrong way on a Long Island parkway in 2005. That accident killed a limousine driver and a 7-year-old flower girl coming home from a family wedding. He is serving 19 years in prison but is appealing that conviction.
In addition to murder, Grasing was also charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter, leaving the scene, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, aggravated DWI as a felony, DWI as a misdemeanor, failure to stop at a signal, failure to stay in lane and speeding.
If convicted of murder, he could face a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
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