Mineola, NY - August 26, 2014 - Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a 19-year-old Queens man was sentenced today for killing Neal Rajapa, 17, and Darian Ramnarine, Peter Kanhai, and Christopher Kahn, all 18, in a high-speed, impaired crash on the Southern State Parkway in October 2012.
Joseph Beer, 19, of South Richmond Hill, was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison by Nassau County Court Judge David Sullivan. Beer was convicted in June by a Nassau County jury of four counts of Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), Reckless Endangerment in the 2nd Degree (an A misdemeanor), and Reckless Driving (an unclassified misdemeanor). At that time, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and therefore did not consider its lesser included charges.
Beer pleaded guilty in July to the top count of the indictment against him, Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (a B felony), as well as Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired by Drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor). Judge Sullivan also found Beer guilty of Operating a Motor Vehicle Without a License (a violation). In that court appearance, Beer admitted to being impaired by marijuana during his crash.
“Joseph Beer purposely smoked marijuana with the intent of driving and caused the deaths of the passengers who trusted him to get them home safely,” DA Rice said. “The deaths of these four young men were violent and senseless. It was not the road’s fault and it was not the first time Joseph Beer had engaged in this unspeakably reckless behavior. This sentence should be a clear message to everyone that if you are old enough to drive, you must be prepared to face the consequences of violent criminal behavior behind the wheel.”
At approximately 3:35 a.m. on Oct. 8, 2012, Beer was driving his turbocharged 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI in excess of 110 mph westbound on the Southern State Parkway in Malverne. His teenage friends were in the car with him. As Beer approached Exit 17N on the parkway, he lost control of his car and skidded over 200 feet across all three lanes of traffic, where he left the road, hit a tree, and the car was torn in half.
All of Beer’s passengers were thrown from the car and killed in the crash. Beer, who only possessed a learner’s permit, suffered minor injuries. Two separate blood tests revealed the active ingredient of marijuana. The defendant admitted smoking marijuana immediately before driving.
Assistant District Attorneys Michael Bushwack and Stefanie Palma of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case. Beer is represented by Todd Greenberg, Esq.