CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The trial of a driver who ran over anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez continued Monday on Long Island.
The court saw intense moments as the victim’s spouse took the stand, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
The couple was irate that memorial items for their murdered daughter’s vigil were destroyed.
As he and his wife were cursing and pointing at the SUV driver over the memorial, he told the jury the vehicle “pulled away intensely,” running Rodriguez over.
It seemed like it was done intentionally “as if Evelyn didn’t exist,” he said.
“It’s like she was transparent, she didn’t exist, knowing that she was standing right in front directly,” Cuevas added.
All of it was captured on disturbing video by a News12 camera there to cover the planned vigil marking the murder of two teenage friends.
Flowers, candles and pictures destroyed by the fiance of the driver, who admitted, according to a News12 reporter who testified, “We are trying to sell the house, it’s enough of the fanfare around here.”
Attorneys for driver, Annmarie Drago, said the constant anti-gang vigils were disruptive.
“There was constant turmoil after the girls being murdered,” said defense attorney Caroline Anne Mayrhofer. “Empty liquor bottle, pizza, bottomless garbage.”
Drago was fleeing a perceived threat, she said.
“She did not see Evelyn there, she felt it was safe to drive her car forward to get away from Freddy,” said defense attorney Stephen Kunken. “She was feeling extremely fearful and scared. She was justified in trying to escape from this imminent threat.”
“Who wouldn’t see somebody standing right in front a car,” said victim’s daughter Kelsey Cuevas. “It’s not like a little squirrel running across your vehicle and you don’t see, it’s a human being.”
Kelsey said her mother, who became a national anti-gang activist, deserves justice.
“If it was me, and not my mom, my mother would be here every step of the way,” she said.
It was a family’s double tragedy, but the jury must decide if Drago failed to perceive her actions would result in a death.
Drago faces up to four years if convicted of criminally negligent homicide.