MINEOLA, N.Y. (PIX11) — A driver, Michael Deangelo, who police say killed four members of a family when he rammed into their car at a high-speed last week on Long Island, got to defend himself in court on Tuesday. His attorney, on Deangelo’s behalf — the defendant is still in the hospital, recovering from the crash — asked that there not be a rush to judgement. Meanwhile, relatives of the victims were at court. They called for justice in what they describe as a nightmarish situation in the wake of the tragedy.
“If I wasn’t living through it, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Tauris McBride, the fiancé of Tasheba Hamilton Huntley. Two of her children, Hannah Huntley, 12, and Jeremiah Huntley, were killed in the Aug. 6 crash on Sunrise Highway in East Massapequa.
Her granddaughter, Chantel Solomon, 6, was injured in the crash, and died in the hospital last weekend. Hamilton Huntley’s daughter, Brienna, 18, is in critical condition in the hospital. McBride said that Brienna may end up losing part of one of her legs from her injuries.
Hamilton Huntley’s ex-husband, Patrice Huntley, 60, was driving the children to a celebration in his SUV when tragedy struck at over 120 mph, according to investigators.
“A father taking his kids out for ice cream, to celebrate their birthday,” McBride said, describing the situation. “And now four of them are dead.”
On Tuesday, Deangelo had a preliminary hearing, which is standard procedure in a felony case. At the hearing, the judge asked a grand jury to consider indicting Deangelo on a variety of charges that prosecutors allege, including aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter, assault, DWI with drugs, and reckless driving.
Karl Seman, the attorney representing Deangelo, said that his client isn’t necessarily criminally liable, and that he’s emotionally affected over what happened.
“When he was arrested, it was the first time that he’d learned about the fatalities here, and he sobbed,” said Seman.
“During his hospital arraignment,” the attorney continued, “all he did was sob. He is heartbroken.”
Seman asked that there be no rush to judgement, and also said that evidence, including toxicology tests, and ways in which traffic crime investigators concluded how fast Deangelo was driving, can be looked at skeptically as the case goes forward.
Meanwhile, the victims’ relatives are planning their funerals and burials. They call their situation horrific.
“What their mother, grandmother is having to endure right now, it’s unspeakable,” said McBride, about how his fiancée is doing relative to the sadness the accused high-speed driver is feeling.
“His remorse doesn’t do anything for us,” he said.