A Queens man was charged with second-degree murder after authorities say he beat another driver to death following a minor traffic collision Saturday night in Baldwin, Nassau County police said.
Authorities identified the victim as David McKenzie, 54, of Baldwin. Police said Monday he was on his way home and the crash and attack took place not far from there.
Police arrested Patrick Destine, 26, of Hollis, Queens, after he was found fleeing on foot with his girlfriend, Aisha Pitt, 19, of Hempstead. Destine, who has a robbery conviction and prior arrests on violent felonies, has been was charged with driving while intoxicated and second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday in First District Court in Hempstead and was being held without bail.
Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Nassau police Homicide Squad, said Destine was driving a gray 2004 Infiniti G35 with no headlights on when he crashed into the 2003 Honda minivan driven by McKenzie at the intersection of Schuman Place and Forest Avenue at about 10:50 p.m. Saturday. He said Destine had just purchased the Infiniti for $4,000, adding that the car was unregistered, uninsured and did not have a valid inspection.
Police said the initial investigation determined that Destine ran a stop sign, made a right turn while driving without headlights on and crashed into the side of McKenzie’s van — precipitating the assault.
Following the collision, Fitzpatrick said Destine got out of the vehicle and chased McKenzie, pushed him to the ground, punched him, stomped on him and kicked him in the head and face.
“When police officers arrived, they discovered the victim lying on the ground with severe face and head injuries,” Fitzpatrick said.
McKenzie was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight, Fitzpatrick said. A medical examiner determined his death was a homicide caused by injuries he sustained during the attack, he said.
Th victim's mother, Pearline McKenzie, during an interview, said through tears: "I lost my son for nothing at all. It shouldn't be." His sister-in-law Vivienne Williams said: "David was the type of person who would try to walk away. He hates trouble."
Following the attack, Fitzpatrick said, Destine returned to the crash scene and rummaged through McKenzie’s minivan, taking personal items, including credit cards, before fleeing on foot east on Schuman Place with Pitt. He said officers arrested Destine following a short foot pursuit.
His attorney Scott Migden, said: "Right now, these are just allegations. We are not looking to rush to judgment."
Pitt was also arrested after the victim’s credit cards were found on her, Nassau police said.
She was released, then arrested again Monday outside of First District Court in Central Islip after a disturbance in the parking lot, officials said. She was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and felony assault on a police officer.
Destine's blood alcohol level was found to be .12, records show, which is over the legal limit for intoxication while driving.
With Cecilia Dowd