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Long IslandCrime

Guilty plea in fatal Franklin Square hit and run crash

Duke Obule of Cambria Heights, Queens is expected

Duke Obule of Cambria Heights, Queens is expected to be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges including second-degree manslaughter in connection with a fatal hit and run. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Queens man pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing a taxi driver in a high-speed hit and run last year that also left the suspect’s passenger injured, according to the Nassau district attorney’s office.

Duke Obule, 24, of Cambria Heights, is expected to be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison in a deal with Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn in Mineola in exchange for his plea on charges of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of assault, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident and misdemeanor aggravated unlicensed operating of a motor vehicle, authorities said.

Obule was driving his BMW at 105 mph on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square on April 23 when he struck Paul Mitacek’s taxi with such force that the cab ended up almost wrapped around a pole. Mitacek, 47, an Elmont father of three, died shortly after the 4:15 a.m. crash.

The plea came on the day the trial was to start. Prosecutors sought the maximum term, 7 1⁄2 to 15 years on manslaughter.

“He’s wanted to plead guilty for months and months,” said his attorney, Jason Russo of Bay Shore. “It was just a matter of trying to getting the fairest disposition. . . . Even today, he was incredibly remorseful, more than any other client or defendant I’ve had.”

Obule had run off, leaving bystanders to help his passenger, whose ankle was broken. A short time later, police found him nearby; Russo said his client had hit his head, was confused and did not deliberately leave the scene.

Two weeks before the crash, Obule had been warned in a Queens courtroom to stop driving because he had a suspended license.

“Paul Mitacek was a hardworking father driving a taxi on Hempstead Turnpike when he was struck and killed by this grossly reckless defendant,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. She said she hoped the plea offered some comfort to the victim’s family.


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