A lawyer for a Queens man accused of driving drunk and causing an Uber driver’s April death on the Long Island Expressway says alcohol played no role in the crash and prosecutors are using “junk science” against his client.
Bonifacio Enriquez, 35, of College Point, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a Mineola court to charges including manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving.
Authorities said the April 7 crash in Jericho killed Roohul Ameen, 43, of Bay Shore, whose family described him as a Pakistani immigrant and father of four young children.
Enriquez, an X-ray technician, is facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charge.
However, defense attorney Todd Greenberg said Tuesday that what happened was an “unavoidable accident.”
The Forest Hills lawyer said Enriquez’ blood alcohol content readings “were below the legal limit,” and the Nassau district attorney’s office was relying on a theory called retrograde extrapolation to claim that his client had been drunk.
The technique uses formulas to estimate a person’s earlier BAC by using a sample obtained later.
“To me, that’s junk science,” Greenberg said in an interview.
But the Nassau district attorney’s office released a statement later saying: “The only thing that matters is the defendant’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, not what it was two and a half hours later when his blood was drawn and tested.”
The statement added that “common sense and well-established toxicology evidence will establish that blood alcohol content goes down as time passes,” and that prosecutors intend to prove Enriquez “was legally intoxicated when he killed” the victim.
Prosecutors said the victim stopped his car on the LIE before the 2:05 a.m. crash because he was trying to tie up his Toyota Camry’s front bumper – which had become dislodged after an accident earlier that day in the city.
Prosecutors are alleging that at the time of the crash Enriquez had a BAC of approximately 0.13 percent – above the 0.08 legal threshold for intoxication.
Authorities said the victim was standing outside his car in the eastbound HOV lane, and Enriquez tried to pass on the left – between the Camry and median – before hitting the Camry and the victim with his Ford Escape and propelling the victim’sbody into the left lane.
Police previously said the driver of a Nissan Altima then hit the victim and dragged him for about half a mile. That driver won’t be criminally charged, prosecutors said Tuesday.
But Greenberg said the Nissan driver’s actions would “play a serious role” in his client’s defense.
The victim’s niece, Komal Khan, 19, said after Enriquez’ arraignment that her family was grieving “because someone decided it’s OK to drink and then get behind the wheel.”
Khan said her late uncle’s children, the youngest only an infant, now will have to grow up without him.
“The 5-year-old, he, every day, is like, ‘When’s Dad coming home?’”
The victim, an Uber driver in Manhattan, was on his way home at the time of the crash, according to relatives.