The Queens man accused of leaving the scene of a fiery crash last year that killed a father and his two children on the Southern State Parkway rejected a plea deal Friday and opted to head toward trial next month.
Oniel Sharpe Jr., 25, is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and other charges related to a July 12, 2015, crash that killed Ancio Ostane, 37, and his children, Andy, 8, and Sephora, 4, of St. Albans, Queens. He is also charged with unrelated credit card fraud offenses.
Prosecutors say that instead of helping Ostane’s wife, Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane, after their minivan exploded, he let the victims burn to death.
Instead, prosecutors say he threw a tequila bottle from his wrecked BMW X5 into the woods before a friend, Demetri Stewart, 23, of Jamaica, Queens, drove him from the scene.
If convicted of all charges, Sharpe would face a maximum of 13 to 39 years in prison. In an attempt to avoid a trial, which would require Bouaz-Ostane to testify about the night she saw her husband and children die, state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho offered Sharpe a sentence of 6 2⁄3 to 20 years if he pleads guilty.
“This would cover all matters,” Camacho said.
Sharpe refused, so pretrial hearings will begin next month with jury selection to follow in November. The hearings will focus primarily on the admissibility of statements Sharpe made to police and whether there was probable cause to arrest him.
Prosecutors say Sharpe slammed into the back of the Ostanes’ minivan near Exit 41S in Bay Shore while he and Stewart chased another driver, whom they didn’t know, at high speed.
Defense attorney Jonathan Manley of Hauppauge asked that the hearings also address whether the method police used to determine Sharpe was intoxicated is scientifically valid. His blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.06 percent four hours after the accident, but forensic toxicologists estimate it was 0.12 percent at the time of the crash — over the 0.08 percent legal threshold.
Camacho denied that request, but Manley questioned whether that estimation is reliable. If Sharpe cannot be proved to have been intoxicated, the only accident-related charge remaining would be leaving the scene of a fatal crash, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 2 1⁄3 to 7 years in prison.
Stewart is charged with leaving the scene of an incident, hindering prosecution and other offenses.