MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a Queens teenager pleaded guilty today to the top charge against him in a high-speed crash that resulted in the deaths of four young people on the Southern State Parkway in October 2012.
Joseph Beer, 19, of South Richmond Hill, pleaded guilty today to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (a B felony) and Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired by Drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor) before Nassau County Court Judge David Sullivan. Judge Sullivan also found Beer guilty today of Operating a Motor Vehicle Without a License (a violation). In court today, Beer admitted to being impaired by marijuana during his crash.
Beer was convicted in June by a Nassau County jury 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 also before Judge Sullivan. At that time, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and therefore did not consider its lesser included charges.
Beer is due back in court on Aug. 26.
“For the families of the four teenagers killed in this horrific crash, there will be no end to the pain and sorrow felt for the young lives that ended much too soon,” DA Rice said. “Today’s plea ensures that justice will be served while sparing these grieving families the heavy emotional toll of a second trial.”
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, suffered minor injuries. Two separate blood tests revealed the active ingredient of marijuana. The defendant admitted smoking marijuana immediately 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.