CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – On Wednesday afternoon, a jury convicted a Long Island nurse of killing a mother who was an anti-gang activist.
“Justice for Evelyn! And we got it — justice for my friend!,” said Amanda Alexander of Brentwood.
Hearts pounded as jurors pronounced Patchogue nurse Drago guilty on all counts in the running over and killing of Rodriguez.
“Justice was served for Evelyn and our community,” said friend Liz Cordero of Brentwood.
Rodriguez’s partner, Freddy Cuevas, said it was a graphic and disturbing video that told the truth. It was recorded during a confrontation on the cul-de-sac where their daughter, Kayla Cuevas was murdered, allegedly at the hands of MS-13.
Just before a two-year anniversary vigil honoring Kayla, Drago dismantled and destroyed the memorial because she thought it might affect potential buyers of her family home. Drago, who was behind the wheel, suffers from PTSD and said she had a panic attack and tried to flee and didn’t see Rodriguez next to the wheel, and drove over her.
“She was a great woman. She was a superb woman, the best thing I ever had,” Freddy Cuevas said.
“Evelyn spent much of her life fighting for justice for others. Today, we were able to obtain justice for Evelyn,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said.
Jurors said they spent time reviewing the video.
“You’ve got to put yourself in the place of the lady who got killed and the lady who was driving the vehicle,” Bunny Baumayr said. “Naturally, you know she didn’t do it on purpose, but whatever her decisions were you know it caused the death of someone.”
Drago’s family and defense team called it a tragic accident.
“She is struggling and extremely disappointed,” defense attorney Stephen Kunken said.
In an unusual ruling, the judge reserved decision on the defense motion to dismiss the top count arguing prosecutors did not prove their case.
“We are hopeful,” Kunken said.
The judge’s decision on insufficient evidence will be rendered April 10.
The top count, criminally negligent homicide, carries a prison sentence of up to four years.