John Licausi Jr., 50, faces life in prison on charges...

John Licausi Jr., 50, faces life in prison on charges that he caused the death of Scott Foster in May 2008 when he crashed his SUV into Foster's Camry. Credit: Handout

The attorney for a Riverhead man on trial for allegedly killing a Manorville salesman in a 2008 car crash argued Thursday that a police chase helped cause the fatal collision.

During his closing argument in Riverhead at the manslaughter trial of John Licausi Jr., 50, attorney Mike Ahern of Sayville said Licausi believed he could not stop his sport utility vehicle at a red light in Farmingville on May 8, 2008, because a police car was right behind him.

The jury began its deliberations in the case late Thursday afternoon.

Prosecutors say Licausi was high on cocaine and fleeing police, who wanted to question him in connection with the theft of lawn equipment when he smashed his SUV into a 1995 Toyota Camry at Old Medford Avenue and Horseblock Road in Farmingville.

The driver of the Camry, Scott Foster, 46, the father of three sons, later died at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.

Licausi, who has been in jail on $1 million bond, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and other charges.

Ahern said Licausi "made some bad choices," but blamed the police chase for the accident.

"Pursuits place lives in danger," Ahern told jurors. "Pursuit is like a drag race."

Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe called Ahern's argument "insulting." She said Licausi's cocaine use led him to feel paranoid and invincible as he fled police.

"And it's because of that that Scott Foster is not with his family today," Newcombe said.

Officer Michael Bogliole had his emergency lights on and was a "considerable distance behind" Licausi when Licausi crashed into Foster's car, Newcombe said.

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