A Freeport man pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide charges Wednesday as about two dozen relatives and friends of the car passenger he’s accused of killing in a high-speed wreck packed a Nassau County courtroom.
Prosecutors have alleged Jonathan Sobrane, 37, was drinking alcohol in the vehicle and also driving while impaired by drugs. The April 17 crash on the Southern State Parkway killed Vito Errico, 22, of Oceanside.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty increased Sobrane’s bond to $500,000 from $350,000 Wednesday after prosecutor Stefanie Palma said testing found Sobrane had the “chemical component” of heroin in his blood at the time of the crash.
Palma also said a 23-year-old female passenger in Sobrane’s car was “scalped” in the impact – what authorities later described as massive head lacerations that left that victim’s skull exposed.
A 21-year-old male passenger also suffered a broken arm and finger, according to authorities.
Prosecutors said the crash ejected Errico from Sobrane’s 2004 Acura, and left him with a knocked-down light pole across his chest.
The crash happened at about 3:40 a.m. near Exit 17 as Sobrane drove east as the group returned from a New York City club, according to authorities.
Sobrane was weaving across traffic lanes and driving on exit and entrance ramps to pass other vehicles when he clipped the back of a 2006 Toyota Highlander, causing his Acura to spin off the road, hit trees and take down the light pole, prosecutors said.
Sobrane’s attorney, David Haber, told the judge that his client was a lifelong Long Island resident who had a job and a child.
After court, he called what happened “a horrible accident,” and said that he hadn’t yet seen the district attorney’s evidence in the case.
Errico’s family came to court wearing black T-shirts with his image on them.
Family friend Brandy Henry, 51, of Oceanside, said the crowd showed up “to make sure” Sobrane “is held accountable to the maximum.”
Henry said Errico had gone to Oceanside High School before he got a job doing construction work, and that the young man was a great comfort to her when she lost her own son last year.
“Everybody loved Vito,” she said. “You couldn’t find anybody who didn’t like this kid.”
Prosecutors said Sobrane is facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top charge.