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Long IslandCrime

Testimony ends in Christopher Campbell vehicular homicide trial

Christopher Campbell, 35, of Sound Beach, leaves First

Christopher Campbell, 35, of Sound Beach, leaves First District Court in Central Islip Tuesday morning, April 14, 2015, after being charged in the October 2014, hit-and-run death of Tracy Mangino, of Miller Place. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A Sound Beach man who was a passenger in a box truck that struck and killed a pedestrian in 2014 testified Friday that he and the driver did not see the woman walking alongside the road, and they didn’t know she was hit.

Nicholas Distefano, 27, was the first defense witness to testify Friday after the prosecution rested its case.

Distefano said he and Christopher Campbell, 37, of Sound Beach — who is on trial in Central Islip for vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated — spent about six hours at three bars on the night of the Oct. 18, 2014 crash that killed Tracy Mangino, 40, of Sound Beach.

He and Campbell, his friend and landlord, had a few beers, but they were not drinking excessively, he testified.

Suffolk prosecutor Carl Borelli played a clip of a video from a nearby home’s surveillance system that captured the impact and asked Distefano how it is that he did not see Mangino, who was drunk as she walked on North Country Road.

“No, I didn’t see anyone,” Distefano said.

“Because you were drunk?” Borelli asked.

“I was not drunk,” the witness replied.

“Was he drunk that night?” Borelli asked, pointing at Campbell, who sat a few feet away at a table in state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho’s courtroom.

“No,” Distefano said.

Under questioning by one of Campbell’s attorneys, William Keahon of Hauppauge, Distefano told jurors that he didn’t see Mangino because it was dark out, and that section of North Country was poorly lit. He said he didn’t hear the truck slam into Mangino because the radio was on, and potholes in the road rattled tools, ladder and other items inside the vehicle.

Borelli spent the bulk of his cross-examination trying to destroy Distefano’s credibility, pointing out that Distefano is a drug addict and felon who served time behind bars after selling prescription painkillers to an undercover cop.

That was the past, Distefano said.

The defense called two more witnesses and rested its case Friday afternoon. Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday.

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