Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

NYC Teen Guilty of 2nd-Degree Manslaughter in Deadly Long Island Crash

A New York City teenager has been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and reckless driving for a crash that split his new car in two and killed four of his friends in October 2012.

The jury was deadlocked on aggravated vehicular homicide, the top charge that Joseph Beer, a 19-year-old from Queens, faced in a trial in Nassau County. Beer was 17 when, prosecutors say, he drove in excess of 100 mph on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island, smashing into a tree. 

The jury sent a final note to the judge Friday saying "we're spinning our wheels, with nothing left to deliberate."

The jurors were deadlocked, Beer's lawyer said, on the question of whether he was impaired by marijuana while behind the wheel.

The Nassau DA Kathleen Rice said a decision has not yet been made on whether to retry Beer on the other charges.

Besides manslaughter, the jury convicted the teenager of reckless driving and reckless endangerment. He faces 5 to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter conviction.

Beer could have faced up to 25 years had he been convicted of the vehicular homicide count.

During the trial his defense attorney conceded that the teen was speeding and high on pot but said a dangerous curve caused the crash.

The crash happened on a stretch of highway dubbed "Dead Man's Curve" because of a treacherous hill that leads to a sharp curve in the highway. The spectacular crash cut the high-performance Subaru in half, killing the four boys instantly.

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