A Nassau judge said Wednesday he may toss a probation deal for a motorist who pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, citing recent social media images of the defendant.
A prosecutor alleged in court the images showed Christopher Ebron, 23, of Hempstead, “smoking what appears to be marijuana” while driving.
On June 25, Ebron pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular manslaughter and driving while drug-impaired as jury selection was underway in his trial on those charges.
Authorities had charged that on Jan. 10, 2017, Ebron was impaired by marijuana when he fatally hit pedestrian Ana M. Neuman, 58, of Hempstead, as she tried to cross North Franklin Avenue in Hempstead. Ebron then drove away before eventually returning, according to prosecutors.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy recalled Wednesday how he had warned Ebron in June, while conditionally committing to a probation sentence, that he could get the maximum of 2⅓ to 7 years behind bars if arrested before his sentencing.
Based on the images, the judge Wednesday cited “clear proof of criminal activity” on Ebron’s part, which he described as involving fireworks and driving with a suspended license.
Murphy added he was “not yet prepared” to stick by the probation deal “based on this new information,” but would let Ebron withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial if he didn’t.
Prosecutor Diana Hedayati told the judge that Instagram videos from approximately June 12 to July 29 showed Ebron appearing to smoke a marijuana cigar behind the wheel. She said screenshots from approximately April through June showed the same behavior and asked for the top sentence — as MADD New York’s executive director separately did in a letter.
But defense attorney Anthony Grandinette said that just because Ebron was depicted smoking a cigar was “not proof” it contained marijuana. He added that the probation deal had been “based upon the facts," saying Neuman had crossed the road against the right of way.