Michael Grasing, now 34, is shown on his way to...

Michael Grasing, now 34, is shown on his way to his arraignment in Central Islip on July 18, 2012. Credit: James Carbone

The West Babylon man on trial for killing a teenager while driving drunk is guilty, his lawyer told a jury Tuesday -- but not of the murder charge sought by Suffolk prosecutors.

During a closing argument of almost 3 1/2 hours, defense attorney William Keahon conceded that his client, Michael Grasing, 34, was "severely intoxicated, no question about it" on June 24, 2012, when his car slammed into the back of a Kia Sportage driven by Brittney Walsh, 18, of Lindenhurst, sending it tumbling down Montauk Highway.

"My position is not that Michael Grasing is not guilty of a very serious crime," Keahon said. "He is guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree. But he's not guilty of murder in the second degree, and he's not guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide."

Prosecutors, who will address the jury Tuesday, said Grasing is guilty of murder because he drove recklessly with depraved indifference to human life at high speed with a blood-alcohol content of .32 percent, four times the legal limit.

But just as Keahon stressed that his client was drunk and reckless, and that Walsh was blameless in the crash, he also accused prosecutors of using unreliable and exaggerated evidence to bring excessive charges against his client.

Prosecutors relied heavily on evidence from John Patsalos, 46, a witness who died soon after the Lindenhurst crash. Patsalos told police he saw Grasing driving in and out of traffic and running red lights, and that he'd warned Grasing at one red light that if he didn't stop driving that way, he'd kill someone.

Keahon said Patsalos' version of events is impossible to believe and worthless. He mocked the idea that Patsalos said Grasing was doing 100 mph, yet could keep up with him to warn him at the light.

Keahon noted that a video of the crash shows Patsalos arriving a minute after it happened past a bend in the road, making it "physically impossible" for him to see the crash, as he claimed.

None of the other witnesses who testified that they saw Grasing on the road saw the behavior Patsalos described. No one else saw him weaving in and out of traffic or running red lights.

Relying on Patsalos was typical of the prosecution, Keahon said. Several witnesses changed their stories to make Grasing's behavior seem more extreme after meeting with prosecutors shortly before the trial, he said.

He reminded jurors that only he called an accident reconstruction expert to testify, even though the Suffolk Crime Laboratory has two such experts on staff to testify for prosecutors. His expert said Grasing was at 65 to 70 mph and in his own lane when he hit Walsh's Kia.

Perhaps most important, Keahon said, prosecutors failed to prove Grasing formed the necessary state of mind for depraved indifference to human life. There was no evidence of self-destructive behavior and no claim he aimed his car at Walsh or anyone else. Keahon argued Grasing was so drunk that he was not able to form that state of mind.

And in the hospital the next day, Grasing asked an officer guarding him what happened and if anyone was hurt. Someone with depraved indifference to human life wouldn't care to ask, Keahon said.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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