A college student testified Tuesday at the felony trial of two young men accused of launching projectiles off a parkway bridge in Uniondale that she suffered permanent eye scarring after a brick shattered the windshield of a car she was traveling in.
“My seat flew back. I just remember covering my face because I was bleeding,” Brianna Rios, 24, of West Hempstead, said at the Nassau County Court trial of Andrew Denton and Jacob Palant.
Denton, 19, of East Meadow, and Palant, 20, of Syosset, have pleaded not guilty to assault, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief charges. State police arrested the friends in early 2016, accusing them of throwing bricks and cinder blocks at cars from a Meadowbrook State Parkway overpass on the evening of Dec. 26, 2015.
Rios recalled Tuesday seeing the shadows of two people on the overpass before the windshield of the BMW her boyfriend was driving “exploded,” leaving her with shards of glass in her left eye and a lip laceration.
She described feeling pain that she said was “an 11” on a scale of 1 to 10, and broke down in tears when a prosecutor displayed a photo of her injuries. Rios testified an eye surgeon had to numb her left eye and pick glass out of it with tweezers. The victim also said she has a permanent scar on her cornea and suffers from blurry vision in that eye.
But under cross-examination, Rios testified that she couldn’t identify anyone on the overpass.
“I feel sorry for the woman, but my client didn’t do it,” defense attorney Edward Galison said outside the courtroom later on Denton’s behalf.
Palant’s lawyer, William McCulloh of West Babylon, declined to comment Tuesday.
Authorities have said that when the projectile crashed through the BMW’s windshield, it also left the driver with a bruised shoulder and caused about $1,500 damage to the car. Another projectile hit a 2015 Jeep, causing about $5,000 in damage, according to State Police.
Prosecutors said Denton and Palant are facing a minimum of 5 years and up to 25 years in prison if a jury convicts them of the top charge against them. Both are now free on bond, and neither would comment on the case while leaving court during a break in testimony Tuesday.
Denton has a separate felony case pending against him after being charged with possessing contraband in Nassau’s jail in March.