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Closing Arguments Under Way In Trial For Teen Accused In Fatal Southern State Parkway Crash

Joseph Beer is escorted to the courtroom for opening statements in his trial on May 8, 2014. (Credit: Michael Balsamo)

Joseph Beer is escorted to the courtroom for opening statements in his trial on May 8, 2014. (Credit: Michael Balsamo)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Closing arguments are being delivered in the Long Island trial of a Queens man accused of driving high and speeding in a 2012 crash that killed four of his friends.

Prosecutors said Joseph Beer, 19, was high and impaired after smoking $20 worth of marijuana and then driving more than 100 mph before crashing off the Southern State Parkway, killing his four teenage passengers – all childhood friends from Queens.

Last week, the defense argued that as a habitual pot smoker Beer was not impaired, and that the crash was an accident caused by speeding.

The defense called an expert witness from Yale University who testified that “chronic” marijuana users like Beer are not affected by the drug in the same way that occasional smokers are.

“If you are a frequent user you do build up a tolerance. And the marijuana has less effect on your cognitive abilities, which are the abilities you need to drive a car,” defense attorney Todd Greenberg had said.

The defense said THC in the blood is not a good measure of being high, among chronic users.

Beer faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of vehicular homicide.

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