Almost exactly 3 years ago, Christopher Campbell of Sound Beach, 37, hit and killed Tracy Mangino, 40, of Miller Place as she was walking home on the night of October 18th, 2014. Because Campbell fled the scene, he was originally charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident and not reporting it to police. Two years later, however, just as Campbell’s trial on these charges was about to begin, the charges against him were upped to vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated (DWI).
The Victim Was Intoxicated
It was known from the beginning that Mangino was drunk as she wended her way home along North Country Road after spending the evening at a breast cancer fundraiser that took place at Napper Tandy’s, a Rocky Point pub. It is a matter of public record that several good samaritans who saw her were concerned enough to call the police to report that an apparently intoxicated woman was walking unsteadily along the road, carrying her boots. All had observed her occasionally veering onto the pavement. Tragically, before law enforcement got to the site to check on her, Mangino had been hit and killed by Campbell’s box truck.
The Prosecution Claims Defendant Was Intoxicated as Well
While Assistant District Attorney Carl Borelli concedes that Mangino was drunk on the night in question, he states that Campbell, the contractor whose box truck hit her and resulted in her death, was also intoxicated. Ironically, according to witnesses, Campbell had gotten drunk at the same bar as his victim. Suffolk prosecutors believe that the fact that Campbell was intoxicated was the reason he fled the scene of the accident.
According to surveillance video from a homeowner who lives close to the scene of the accident, Mangino bent over to pick something up at precisely the moment Campbell’s truck appeared. To illustrate the moment of impact, Assistant District Attorney Borelli smacked the palm of his hand saying “Whack! The corner of the box [truck] hit her,” snapping “her neck just like that.” Campbell did not pull over or even stop.
The Case for the Defense
Defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge presents an entirely different point of view, stating that the case against the defendant is “so weak it’s practically nonexistent, built on a foundation of vengeful lies by prosecutors concerned more with a conviction than justice.”
According to him, there are several facts that reinforce his vision of the case, including:
- Campbell was never given a breathalyzer or other blood alcohol content (BAC) test
- The only definitive source of information relative to his intoxication is his former girlfriend’s testimony
- Before Campbell was charged, he did not hide his truck after leaving the accident scene
- Campbell cooperated with the police for months before they first charged him
- When new, more severe charges were made a year ago, Campbell rejected plea offers
Keahon maintains that the case for a DWI was manufactured by the prosecution and that they have witnesses who are prepared to lie on the stand. He also suggests that the victim was invisible to his client on the darkened road and that the part of the truck that hit her as she bent over was not visible to Campbell from his position in the driver’s seat. The defense moved for a mistrial, saying that Borelli had introduced testimony from the first police officer on the scene, Michael Harrigan, that he’d been injured by a drunk driver, and that such information was irrelevant and prejudicial.
The judge denied the motion, noting that the aforementioned information did not affect Campbell’s right to a fair trial so the trial will continue.
The Difference in the Severity of the Charges in New York State
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter, a charge that entails killing someone with your vehicle while DWI or driving recklessly are more severe than if you have simply left the scene of an accident involving injuries, even fatal ones. There are, however, many factors involved in the possible penalties you may incur in either instance.
If you are driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, for example, and your impairment was the cause of the other person’s death, the consequences are worse than if you were drunk but your drunkenness was not the reason for the fatal crash. Also, your penalties will be harsher the higher the level of alcohol or drugs in your system. The penalties will also be greater if you have a history of reckless or impaired driving, a history of accidents, or if a child was involved in the accident.
Why You Always Need a First-Rate Defense Attorney if You Are Arrested
The complexities of the the laws regarding vehicular accidents are many. Though the law can be harsh on those who kill on the road, keen attorneys are capable of coming up with viable,
often innovative, defenses. Since the verdict of your case can be life-altering, it is crucial if you are arrested for a vehicular crime that you consult with an experienced, savvy criminal defense attorney.