MINEOLA, N.Y. (PIX11) – He is the sole survivor from a horrible 2012 crash on the Southern State Parkway, but 19-year-old Joseph Beer also happens to the be the man who was behind the wheel.
Prosecutors said Beer smoked pot and was high, speeding more than 110 miles per hour and reckless when he crashed and killed his four friends, who were in the car with him.
“As a man he stood up there. He understands his conduct was wrong. He understands his errors of that night,” said Beer’s defense attorney, Todd Greenberg.
Inside the Nassau County courthouse, Beer admitted he committed a horrendous crime, said he was truly sorry and begged his friends’ families for forgiveness.
The judge denied Beer leniency based on his age at the time of the crash, sentencing him to 5 to 15 years in prison.
For the judge and the victims’ families, however, that remorse was unconvincing. Families said Beer seemed unaffected by his actions during nearly every court appearance.
“There was no remorse there. Day in and day out we sat in that courtoom and he just sits there and smiles, so there’s no remorse,” said Sharon Rajapa, the mother of Neal Rajapa.
Neal Rajapa, Peter Kanhai, Christopher Khan and Darian Ramnarine were all killed that October night. Their families, still grappled with their loss, but quick to say they have no other choice but to forgive Beer.
“People can learn from it. There are other people out there who are thinking like Joseph was and you will be caught,” said Bryant Barr, the step-father of Peter Kanhai.
Beer’s defense attorney, Todd Greenberg, attempted to get his client a youthful offender status, which would have resulted in a looser sentence but that request was denied by Nassau County Judge David Sullivan.
Beer will be eligible for parole in another two years, but Greenberg said he does plan to appeal.