Suffolk DA: Patchogue Woman Sentenced to Jail for Criminally Negligent Homicide in Death of Anti-Gang Activist

Patchogue woman sentenced to nine months in jail for causing the death of anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez, 50, of Brentwood, on Sept. 14, 2018

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Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini has announced the sentencing of a Patchogue woman to nine months in jail for causing the death of anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez, 50, of Brentwood, on Sept. 14, 2018.

“The defendant’s actions that day were unconscionable, first destroying a memorial for a 16-year-old girl then attempting to flee when confronted by a grieving mother,” District Attorney Sini said. “Today’s sentence is a just outcome that holds her accountable for her actions.

“Evelyn Rodriguez was a fighter for justice – for her daughter and for all victims of gang violence – until the day she died. Her death, like her daughter’s, was an unthinkable tragedy. While nothing can undo the immense losses suffered by her family, it is my hope that today’s sentence brings them some sense of closure in this tragedy.”

Annmarie Drago, 60, was convicted by a jury on March 11, 2020, of Criminally Negligent Homicide, an E felony; Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree, an A misdemeanor; and Petit Larceny, an A misdemeanor. She was sentenced today by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho.

On Sept. 14, 2018, Rodriguez was on Ray Court in Brentwood setting up a memorial for her daughter, Kayla Cuevas, 16, who was allegedly murdered by MS-13 gang members near the location two years prior. A vigil commemorating Cuevas’ death was scheduled for that evening on Ray Court. The memorial included a table decorated with votive candles, glass vases containing flowers, balloons, and a large photograph of Kayla. Rodriguez had also placed a large floral arrangement on a wire stand next to the table.

At approximately 3:37 p.m., Drago, who was visiting her mother’s house on Ray Court, threw several items placed at the memorial into a garbage can, including candles, a tablecloth, flower bouquets and vases. She also slashed the balloons placed at the memorial before throwing them in the garbage.

Drago then stole the remaining memorial items and placed them in the back of her 2016 Nissan Rogue, including the table, the photograph of Kayla and the large floral arrangement.

At approximately 4:08 p.m., the defendant became involved in a dispute with Rodriguez, who was on foot, over the stolen and damaged items from the memorial.

During the dispute, Drago abruptly accelerated the vehicle, striking Rodriguez with the front left tire and rear left tire of her vehicle.

Rodriguez was transported to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where she was pronounced dead.

Opening statements in the trial took place on Feb. 27. The jury deliberated for less than one day before returning a verdict of guilty on all counts.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Marc Lindemann, current Bureau Chief of the Public Integrity Bureau and formerly of the Vehicular Crime Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp, of the Vehicular Crime Bureau.