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Fatal-crash charges raised to manslaughter

At left, Essence Smith, 18, of upstate Troy,

At left, Essence Smith, 18, of upstate Troy, was arrested, along with Rashawn Naquan Smith, 26, of Brooklyn, at right, and Cordell Tucker, 24, of Brooklyn, and have been charged in the death of a Holbrook woman, authorities said Tuesday. (June 28, 2011) Photo Credit: Handout

A Brooklyn man accused of killing a Holbrook woman in a car crash after leading police on a wild chase last month now faces manslaughter and assault charges.

Cordell Tucker, 24, pleaded not guilty Friday to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault. The new charges are in addition to third-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, reckless endangerment and numerous traffic counts.

Gail Sacher, 62, was killed in the June 27 crash. Her husband Alan, 61, was seriously injured with several broken bones and remains hospitalized, prosecutor Laura Newcomb said in court.

The events leading to the crash began 26 miles away at the True Religion store at the Tanger Outlet Center in Riverhead, Newcomb said. That's where authorities said Tucker, Rashawn Smith, 26, of Brooklyn, and Essence Smith, 18, of upstate Troy, stole 30 pairs of jeans worth $4,000, Newcomb said.

Suffolk sheriff's deputies pulled the car over on the Long Island Expressway, but when deputies approached the car, Newcomb said, Tucker took off. He exited the highway at Exit 64 near Coram, heading north briefly on Route 112 before making a U-turn, Newcomb said.

The car raced south -- sometimes in the northbound lanes, sometimes on the sidewalk, sometimes through parking lots, blowing red lights and narrowly missing pedestrians -- before heading west on Sunrise Highway, at times over 100 mph, Newcomb said. The car got off at Lincoln Avenue, ran a red light and hit the Sachers' car, she said.

Tucker hung his head as he listened. "He appears to be very remorseful, and his heart goes out to the family and the husband," said Tucker's attorney, Susan Scarpati of Huntington.

Suffolk County Court Judge Martin Efman set bail for Tucker at $500,000 cash, or $1 million bond.

Efman set bail for Rashawn Smith at $50,000 cash, or $75,000 bond, and for Essence Smith at $15,000 cash, or $25,000 bond. They are charged with third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property. The Smiths are unrelated.

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