A Levittown man admitted Monday he drove drunk last summer and killed a lifelong friend in a Northern State Parkway crash prosecutors said happened after he lost control while speeding at 120 mph.
"I don't remember much, but I do remember crashing and unfortunately it took the life of my best friend," Brian Friedrichs, 23, told the judge.
Wearing handcuffs and a suit and tie, Friedrichs pleaded guilty in a Mineola court to a felony charge of second-degree manslaughter and a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge.storyDA: LI man indicted on manslaughter charge storyPolice: Man, 23, dies after drunken crashDataLI crime stats
The early-morning July 22 crash in Westbury killed Christopher Gallina, 23, also of Levittown. Authorities said the Mazda the friends were in flipped several times and both were ejected.
Nassau County Judge Alan Honorof said he'd send Friedrichs to prison for no more than 4 to 12 years when he sentences him next month.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Bushwack said that was the penalty that prosecutors were seeking in Friedrichs' guilty plea that included the top charge. They agreed to drop other charges against the former pizza deliveryman, including a vehicular-manslaughter count.
The Mazda's black box data recorder had showed how fast Friedrichs had been driving, according to authorities, who said they found marijuana and marijuana pipes at the scene.
Friedrichs' attorney, Alan Schwartz, told the judge the defense hoped to persuade him to give the defendant a lighter penalty at his May 18 sentencing. Later, the lawyer said Friedrichs is part of a jail program where he works with others with substance abuse problems.
"This was a tragedy for everybody concerned. This accident resulted in the death of his closest friend. He's really taken it very much to heart. He's doing a lot of things to try to make amends for that, not that anybody really totally can," Schwartz said.
The Garden City-based attorney called his client "a good kid who did something really stupid and . . . realizes there's a price to pay."
In a prepared statement, acting District Attorney Madeline Singas called it "a miracle" more people didn't die in the crash. She said the B felony of aggravated vehicular homicide "should be expanded to include grossly reckless drivers like Mr. Friedrichs" and her office will work with legislators with a goal of adding a new subsection to the law.
Under the current law, prosecutors said Friedrichs could have only faced up to 5 to 15 years in prison under the C felony topping his indictment, but aggravated vehicular homicide carries a penalty of up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
Court records show Friedrichs also is due in District Court Tuesday in a drug case from February 2014 in which a police officer reported finding a crack rock on the center console of a Mazda Friedrichs was parked in.