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Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
Long Island

Woman Cut Wheel, ‘Hit the Gas’ in Fatal LI Crash That Killed Gang Victim’s Mother

The prosecutor said that one of the victim's feet got caught under a tire after she stepped forward at the same time Drago accelerated and "did the unthinkable"

A woman charged in the negligent homicide of a New York mother saluted for her crusade against MS-13 gang violence "cut the wheel" of her car in the victim's direction and "hit the gas," a prosecutor said.

Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp gave her opening statement Thursday during Ann Marie Drago's trial in Suffolk criminal court for the death of Evelyn Rodriguez, Newsday reported.

The prosecutor said that one of Rodriguez's feet got caught under a tire after she stepped forward at the same time Drago accelerated and "did the unthinkable."

The SUV crushed Rodriguez's body as Drago kept driving, according to Bopp.

Drago, a 59-year-old nurse, also faces charges of criminal mischief and petit larceny in the September 2018 confrontation that led to the death of Rodriguez.

Her lawyer, Stephen Kunken, contends the fatal encounter was a "tragic accident." He told jurors she didn't have the criminal state of mind to commit a homicide and the law required them to focus on "what was going on inside" her mind that day.

Rodriguez became a symbol in the fight against gang violence after her 16-year-old daughter, Kayla Cuevas, was hacked and beaten to death along with a friend on a suburban Long Island street.

Prosecutors had said the victim was killed as she angrily confronted Drago for trashing a memorial set up for the second anniversary of the girl's death near the spot where she was slain.

The fatal SUV strike was recorded by a television news crew that was rolling as dignitaries, including a congressman, prepared to head to the scene in Brentwood for a vigil.

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