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Long IslandCrime

Nassau judge drops some charges in crash that killed cabbie

Duke Obule, 23, is escorted from Nassau

Duke Obule, 23, is escorted from Nassau County police headquarters on April 24, 2016 on the way to his arraignment in a fatal crash involving a taxi cab driver from Elmont. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A judge Wednesday dismissed some of the felony charges against a Queens man charged with causing a fatal crash after a blood test showed he had little alcohol in his system about two hours after allegedly causing the Franklin Square collision that left a taxi driver dead.

Duke Obule, 23, still faces the top count of second-degree manslaughter after an April wreck on Hempstead Turnpike that authorities said killed cabbie Paul Mitacek, 47, of Elmont.

Police had alleged Obule was under the influence of alcohol or drugs while speeding in a 2016 BMW sedan when he hit Mitacek’s 2009 Chevrolet Impala taxi at about 4:15 a.m. on April 23.

They said the taxi went into oncoming traffic lanes and onto a sidewalk, before it slammed into a utility pole and Mitacek died at the scene.

Authorities also said Obule ran away, leaving a woman in his car with a broken ankle, before officers arrested him about an hour later and a mile away.

Police had alleged a 5:20 a.m. breath test showed Obule had a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent – twice the legal standard for intoxication.

But a Tuesday letter from Nassau prosecutors said a 6:26 a.m. test on Obule’s blood showed a BAC result of less than 0.01 percent, defense attorney Jason Russo said.

Testing so far hasn’t turned up any positive results for drugs, although prosecutors also wrote they’re still awaiting a formal report on drug testing.

“The facts of the case have just changed overwhelmingly in his favor,” Russo said Wednesday in court.

Acting County Court Judge Anthony Paradiso set a bail of $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash for Obule – who had been jailed without bail.

At prosecutor Patrick Brand’s request, the judge also dismissed lower felony charges of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault and a misdemeanor DWI count, and reduced a felony count of aggravated unlicensed driving to a misdemeanor.

Besides manslaughter, Obule still faces other felonies that include leaving a deadly crash.

“His community was up in arms about the allegation that he was either drunk or high when he was operating the car. We maintained from day one he was not,” Russo said after court.

“The .16 that was noted in certain police documentation was not corroborated in any way and absolutely refuted by medical examiner’s evidence. So it can only lead one to believe that this unfortunately may have been fabricated,” the Bay Shore lawyer added.

A district attorney’s office spokesman declined to comment.

Nassau police Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said Obule “fled the scene of the horrific, high speed crash,” and police “cannot speculate” about what he did before his arrest and preliminary breath test.

“Therefore we do not know what caused the discrepancy in the readings. The lab test confirms that the driver consumed some alcohol that night,” he added.

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