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Levittown man charged with vehicular manslaughter in crash that killed 81-year-old pedestrian

Nassau County police investigate the scene of a

Nassau County police investigate the scene of a accident on Hempstead Turnpike and Gardiners Avenue in Levittown Tuesday morning, April 22, 2014. Credit: Jim Staubitser

A Levittown man has pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving after an April 22 crash on Hempstead Turnpike that killed an 81-year-old pedestrian, court records show.

James Taggart Jr., 43, was arraigned Wednesday on a recent grand jury indictment.

Police arrested Taggart on a drunken driving charge shortly after his car struck and killed Bethpage resident Robert Chapman Sr., who was trying to cross Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown in an area without a crosswalk.

The victim had gotten off a bus and was walking to work at a nearby grocery store, according to police.

Taggart's attorney, William Petrillo of Garden City, Thursday called the crash an "unavoidable accident on a dangerous road," and said his client's actions at the scene, including calling 911 and trying to help Chapman, "are consistent with his sobriety in this case."

Taggart remains free on $7,500 bail.

Nassau district attorney's office spokesman Paul Leonard said Thursday that the indictment came after "an extensive grand jury presentation" that followed a thorough probe.

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