Pair arraigned in fatal Huntington Station pedestrian crash
Two people surrendered and were arraigned Thursday in connection with the Labor Day 2012 hit-and-run crash of a pedestrian, who died after being dragged more than 500 feet in Huntington Station.
The suspected driver, Nicole Grammerstorf, 29, of Melville, and the auto mechanic who repaired the car, Mark Monserrat, 37, of North Babylon, pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment, including conspiracy and tampering with evidence, in the death of Luis Flores.
The case broke after a tip to the Suffolk Crime Stoppers hotline and key evidence was found on Grammerstorf's 2003 Nissan Pathfinder, prosecutor Elizabeth Miller told the judge during the arraignment.
"The victim's DNA was found on the vehicle," she said.
Grammerstorf was driving the sport utility vehicle with her 5-year-old child in the car when she hit Flores, a dishwasher at a Huntington restaurant, on the night of Sept. 3 as he walked across Jericho Turnpike, authorities said. The SUV dragged Flores more than 500 feet, police said. He was found with a receipt in his pocket showing he had wired money to his native Honduras.
The attorney for Monserrat, of 515 Spruce St., said his client bought the car from a flatbed truck driver without knowing it was involved in a fatal crash. The district attorney's office said Grammerstorf took the car to Monserrat, who repaired and sold it.
Both were charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution, both felonies, and conspiracy, a misdemeanor.
Grammerstorf, of 12 Lorien Place, faces two added charges: leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
Bail was set at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond for Grammerstorf, and $15,000 cash or $30,000 bond for Monserrat.
Grammerstorf's Huntington-based attorney, John LoTurco, asked that she be released on her own recognizance and said that her only prior criminal conviction is driving unlicensed.
After the arraignment in Central Islip, a man who said he was Grammerstorf's father defended his daughter. "I love my daughter," said the man, who declined to give his name. "She did nothing wrong. She'll be proven innocent."
Monserrat's attorney, John J. Ebel of Amagansett, said his client purchased the car around Christmas from the driver of a truck labeled Ed's Towing.
"He had the bad fortune of having this car in his auto body facility," Ebel said outside court. "He buys cars that are wrecked, repairs them and resells them.
"Police came in and seized the vehicle and said it was used in a homicide."
Ebel said efforts to find the truck driver failed and that the company is not listed.
Grammerstorf was arrested in 2006 after Suffolk police said she was driving erratically with her 5-month-old son in the car. After a bench trial on drunken driving and child endangerment charges, the judge convicted her of speeding, an infraction, and fined her $180. With William Murphy