MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a Nassau County jury found a Queens man guilty today in a high-speed crash in 2012 on the Southern State Parkway that killed all four of his passengers.
After four days of deliberations, a jury found Joseph Beer, 19, guilty of four counts of Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), Reckless Endangerment in the 2nd Degree (an A misdemeanor), and Reckless Driving (an unclassified misdemeanor) in a trial before Nassau County Court Judge David Sullivan. The jury was not able to reach a verdict on the charges of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (a B felony), Vehicular Manslaughter in the 1st Degree (a C felony), four counts of Vehicular Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree (a D felony), and Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired by Drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor). One charge, Operating a Motor Vehicle Without a License (a violation), was not considered by the jury and will be decided by the court.
The maximum sentencing range on the top charge Beer was found guilty of is five to 15 years in prison. Beer is due back in court on June 24.
“Mr. Beer may have been looking to go on a joyride that night, but all he caused was despair for the families of the four teens he killed by choosing to speed down a public parkway after smoking marijuana,” DA Rice said. “That night, Mr. Beer could have killed anyone unlucky enough to be in his path. With this verdict, this defendant will be held responsible for his reckless actions and for causing the death of his friends who were taken from their families much too soon.”
At approximately 3:35 a.m. on Oct. 8, 2012, Beer was driving his turbocharged 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI in excess of 110 mph westbound on the Southern State Parkway in Malverne. His friends, one age 17 and three age 18, were in the car with him. As Beer approached Exit 17N on the parkway, he lost control of his car and skidded over 200 feet across all three lanes of traffic, where he left the road, hit a tree, and the car was torn in half.
Killed in the crash were Darian Ramnarine, 18, of Inwood; Peter Kanhai, 18, of South Ozone Park; Neal Rajapa, 17, of South Ozone Park; and Christopher Kahn, 18, of Ozone Park, all of whom were thrown from the vehicle. Beer, who only possessed a learner’s permit and was not permitted to be driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., suffered minor injuries. At the hospital, his blood tested positive for the active ingredient of marijuana, delta-9 THC. The defendant admitted smoking marijuana before driving.
Assistant District Attorneys Michael Bushwack and Stefanie Palma of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Beer is represented by Todd Greenberg, Esq.