The driver in a crash that left two teenagers dead in West Hempstead was arraigned on manslaughter and assault charges. Newsday TV's Cecilia Dowd reports.    Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

A mother’s sobs echoed through a courtroom Wednesday as the manslaughter arraignment of a 19-year-old who’s accused of killing two of her teenage friends in a high-speed West Hempstead crash came to an end.

“That’s his birthday,” the mother of 19-year-old crash victim Kurtis Caesar cried out after the judge announced the next court date for defendant Nylah Frazier.

Frazier sat silently in handcuffs on the other side of the courtroom as the grieving mother's cries punctuated the tension in a room brimming with supporters of the defendant and family members of the victims.

Caesar's mother, Nadia Wynter-Baylis, wept for more than a minute as Acting State Supreme Court Justice Caryn Fink quickly conferred with attorneys for both sides. She then changed the upcoming court date for Frazier, whose bond she had set at $100,000.

The defendant, who is from West Hempstead, pleaded not guilty. She also faces charges of assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving in connection with the early morning October 2021 crash on Westminster Road near Fairlawn Avenue.

Wynter-Baylis' tears continued after the arraignment as she and dozens of Caesar's relatives and friends and those of 17-year-old crash victim Amanda Arguinzoni filed out of Nassau County Court.

Many wore T-shirts in memory of the victims, some of which also demanded justice.

“Every time I close my eyes I see him,” Wynter-Baylis, of Hollis, Queens, told news reporters as her 4-year-old daughter and other family crowded around her in the July heat.

“He texted me at 11:29 that night, ‘Mom, I’m coming home,’ and he never got home,” she added of a son she said had been devoted to his little sister and loved to play drums and run track.

Caesar had been dating Arguinzoni and took her to her prom, Wynter-Baylis said.

Caesar’s mother added that he had gone to Malverne High School up until 10th grade before graduating in 2020 from Mathematics, Science Research and Technology Magnet High School in Queens.

He had worked for FedEx and dreamed of owning his own automotive business in Florida, according to Wynter-Baylis.

Arguinzoni had been a senior at West Hempstead High School, where she was a cheerleader, according to family and friends. They described her as a bright girl with a strong spirit, a talented artist and singer who had hoped to pursue a career in criminal justice.

“That day was just very tragic,” Arguinzoni’s mother, Ruby Hernandez, said outside the courthouse. She also broke down in tears.

“She didn’t get to graduate or celebrate her birthday. She was just about to start her life,” said Arguinzoni’s cousin, Yolanda Meza, 20.

17-year-old crash victim Amanda Arguinzoni (left); 19-year-old crash victim Kurtis...

17-year-old crash victim Amanda Arguinzoni (left); 19-year-old crash victim Kurtis Caesar. Credit: Family photo

Prosecutors alleged that at about 1 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2021, Frazier was driving a BMW X3 northbound at more than 100 mph when she blew through a red light, lost control of her vehicle and crashed into the back of a landscape company dump truck.

They said the impact caused the BMW to flip, ejecting Caesar and Arguinzoni and killing them instantly.

Prosecutor Tara DePalo said in court that Frazier drove recklessly after she had a fight with her boyfriend, with the BMW’s event data recorder showing later that she had been speeding at 102 mph.

Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly called the crash “horrific” after the arraignment. She said that in addition to information from the BMW’s event data recorder, other evidence in the case included two surveillance videos from the neighborhood.

“Not a minute has gone by that Miss Frazier has not thought about what happened to her friends,” defense attorney Marc Gann said in court.

Frazier quickly made bond after the arraignment. Gann said the defense would do its own crash investigation.

“Nylah has lived with this tragic event since the accident happened. Remorse would be an understatement for what she feels about the fact that she was involved in this accident,” he said.

Gann added that he would research whether the BMW his client was driving was part of a safety recall involving accelerator issues. He also said he believed the dump truck had been illegally parked at the time of the crash.

 “This is a tragedy all the way around. This a parent’s worst nightmare no matter what side of the equation you’re on here,” he added. 

The defense attorney said Arguinzoni had been Frazier's best friend.

He said Frazier is a West Hempstead High School graduate who attends Nassau Community College, works in a medical office and has done significant community service.

She is due back in court Sept. 9 and faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charge against her.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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