RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There were tears of disappointment this week for the parents of a Long Island teenager killed in a drunken driving crash on Long Island.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, despite their push, there was no murder conviction for the man who took the life of their daughter, Brittney Walsh, in 2012.
Michael Grasing was convicted this past Wednesday of aggravated vehicular homicide, but acquitted of the top charge of second degree murder by depraved indifference.
Prosecutors said Grasing had a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit and was speeding when he rear-ended the 18-year-old Walsh’s car in Lindenhurst, causing it to tumble off the road.
“The jurors didn’t see what we saw,” said Brittney Walsh’s father, Tom Walsh.
Tom and Cheryl Walsh were disappointed, but not vindictive, as they relived the verdict following the historic six-week trial.
“It’s about the loss of a life that he took,” Cheryl Walsh said. “He didn’t care about anyone that night.”
Grasing’s attorney conceded his client was intoxicated, but said prosecutors hadn’t proven he was acting with depraved indifference to human life. But Tom Walsh did not agree.
“He has people warning him. He admitted to a driver pulling him over, yelling to get off the road – you’re going to kill somebody,” he said. “The DA made that clear.”
Jurors returned with the verdict on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve.
“It’s just hard, and to know he’s still able to see his parents,” Cheryl Walsh said.
“We just put fresh flowers this morning – fresh flowers at the cemetery,” said Tom Walsh.
Brittney Walsh was headed to her parents’ house after work – blocks from home – when the deadly crash happened in June 2012. Surveillance video showed Grasing’s speeding car going up to 100 mph.
Brittney had graduated from high school just 48 hours before she was killed instantly in the crash.
“I want him to get what he deserves,” Tom Walsh said. “We have a sentence that we have deal with now, every day, every holiday”
“Today is Thanksgiving,” Cheryl Walsh added. “She would be here helping me set the table, and baking and cooking.”
The juror’s decision means Grasing faces between eight years and four months to 25 years in prison. The murder conviction could have held a life sentence.
In the end, jurors said they were not satisfied that Grasing’s mental state provided proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted with depraved indifference toward human life.
‘I am going to be at every appeal. I’m going to be at every probation hearing, everything, parole hearing that he has — I will be there, fighting for Brittney,” Cheryl Walsh said.
Grasing will be sentenced Jan. 5. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is joining the Walsh family and supporters, urging a Suffolk County judge to hand down the maximum 25-year sentence.
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