Yesterday District Attorney Thomas Spota announced an arrest and indictment in the June hit-and-run of Karen Benjamin. She passed away from the injuries she recieved from being hit while jogging on Canal Road a month later. The man behind the wheel was Thomas Costa. The 31-year-old Coram resident was charged with Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting, as a D Felony, and Speeding. He plead not guilty to all charges.
“Thomas Costa, struck Ms. Benjamin while she was jogging on Canal Road in Mount Sinai and left her in the road with injuries that ultimately claimed her life.” Said Spota. “His thoughtlessness and criminal behaviour caused the death of a vibrant 56-year old woman.”
The eyewitness report given by police and the forensic analysis of car parts collected at the scene of the collision, helped the county crime lab narrow down a list of BMW’s from one particular model and year. After going from house to house, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Vehicle Crimes Unit found a damaged BMW that fit the make and model. The BMW which struck Benjamin was parked against a fence in the side yard of Costa’s parent’s house.
Detectives Questioned Costa's parents and learned he got home 18 minutes after the crash. When the car was inspected they noticed the windshield was smashed, the side mirror was completely knocked off, and blood spatter was on the BMW. “It was the victim, Karen Benjamin, who told us who the killer was,” Spota said, “in that her DNA was in the blood found on the BMW.
Karen Benjamin, 56, a nurse’s assistant, leaves behind two children.
UPDATE, 10:30 AM, TUESDAY: A petition was started by Karen Benjamin's daughter, Lindsay Benjamin, to keep Thomas Costa in jail for vehicular manslaughter. Currently he's charged with fleeing the scene of a crime and the maximum sentence he'd recieve is two to seven years. "We want to petition to change that." Benjamin says in the petition. "We want to keep Thomas Costa in Jail for Vehicular Manslaughter without bargaining for a plea deal. No Bail. Nothing. We want to keep a man like Thomas Costa off the streets."