Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEA OF CARMEN HUERTAS IN FATAL DRUNK DRIVING INCIDENT
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of CARMEN HUERTAS, 32, in connection with the drunk-driving incident that killed 11-year-old Leandra Rosado and injured six other girls between the ages of 11 and 14. Huertas pleaded guilty to all of the charges against her, including the top charge in the indictment:
Manslaughter in the Second Degree. HUERTAS will be sentenced on October 1, 2010.
"In pleading guilty to the charges against her, Carmen Huertas is acknowledging criminal responsibility for this tragic incident," said District Attorney Vance. "It is my hope that the family of victim Leandra Rosado can derive some small measure of comfort from today's events, and from the fact that her death inspired the swift passage of Leandra's Law. That law made it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car, and as of this Sunday will require ignition interlock devices in the cars of those convicted of driving while intoxicated. Leandra's Law is a powerful tool for prosecutors and will prevent other senseless deaths from occurring in the future."
According to documents filed in court, the investigation leading to today's guilty plea revealed that
at approximately 12:30 a.m. on October 11, 2009, HUERTAS attempted to drive six of her daughter's friends from Manhattan to her home in the Bronx for a sleepover. Earlier in the evening, HUERTAS had been drinking alcohol at the birthday party of an adult relative in Chelsea. While driving along the Henry Hudson Parkway, HUERTAS lost control of her station wagon at East 90th Street, drove off the road and crashed into a wooded area. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) Highway Accident Investigation Squad concluded that HUERTAS was driving at approximately 68 miles-per-hour, even though the posted speed limit is 50 miles-per-hour. Most of the children were not wearing seatbelts. NYPD investigators performed a portable breath analysis test on HUERTAS at the scene, which revealed a Blood Alcohol Content of .132 percent. The Legal limit is .08 percent.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan, Chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, for prosecuting the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Deputy Chief of the Trial Division.
District Attorney Vance also thanked members of the NYPD Highway Accident Investigation Squad, including Lieutenant Michael Kelly, Sergeant Richard Angeletti, and Detective Brian Leonard.
CARMEN HUERTAS, D.O.B. 5/5/1978
* Manslaughter in the Second Degree, one count, a class C felony
* Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, two counts, a class
* Vehicular Assault in the First Degree, two counts, a class D
* Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree, four counts, a class E
* Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol,
* a class A misdemeanor
* Assault in the Third Degree, five counts, a class A misdemeanor
A class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison, and a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail.