Defendant accused of killing 4 in race testifies

Defendant Damian Dudkiewicz leaves the courtroom of Judge

Defendant Damian Dudkiewicz leaves the courtroom of Judge Mark Cohen. (Sept. 28, 2012) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

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After sparring over everything from how he signed his name to where he lived, a Lindenhurst man insisted Monday to a Suffolk prosecutor that he was not racing on Montauk Highway before he lost control of his car and killed four people.

Damian Dudkiewicz, 28, is charged with second-degree manslaughter because of the July 26, 2009, collision in Copiague. Prosecutors say he was racing a white pickup driven by Michael Fredericks, 23, of Babylon when a car turned in front of him. Dudkiewicz swerved right, hit a curb, spun and hit a minivan coming the other direction.

During three days of aggressive cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco, Dudkiewicz said he noticed the pickup at a stop light, but disregarded it.

"That white pickup truck -- it was right next to you, and you were racing it," Brosco said to Dudkiewicz.

"No, I didn't," he replied evenly. He said he was paying more attention to cars about 50 or 60 feet in front of him.

"You're just making that up right now, aren't you?" Brosco said.

"No, I'm not," he replied.

Killed were a passenger in the minivan, Teresa Zuardo, 69, of Brooklyn; and Dudkiewicz's passengers: Grzegorz Osko, 29; his wife, Kamila Boriczka Osko, 26; and Dudkiewicz's pregnant fiancee, Magda Siwik, 30, all of Lindenhurst.

The issue of whether there was a race is crucial to prove recklessness in the case.

"Speed alone is not sufficient in either a manslaughter case or a criminally negligent homicide case," defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge said in court.

Two people in a car behind Dudkiewicz and Fredericks said the two men revved their engines and wove through traffic before the crash. While hospitalized, Dudkiewicz also signed a statement suggesting he raced the pickup, but he later testified those details were added by a detective after he signed only the first of its two pages.

Brosco questioned him extensively about other documents he's signed, attempting to show the signatures were similar. Still, he insisted: "I never saw the second page. It's not my signature."

At one point, Dudkiewicz corrected Brosco when she referred to Siwik as his girlfriend.

"Girlfriend, fiancee -- it's a technicality of a ring," she said.

Attorneys will give closing arguments in the case Wednesday before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen, almost seven weeks after testimony began.

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