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Fatal drunken-driving case goes to jury

A file photo of Jennifer Jorgensen in Riverhead

A file photo of Jennifer Jorgensen in Riverhead Criminal Court. (March 21, 2011) Credit: James Carbone

Jurors began deliberating Tuesday morning whether a Miller Place woman was intoxicated by alcohol and an anti-anxiety medication when she drove head-on into another car, killing a Ridge couple.

Jennifer Jorgensen, 31, was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time of the May 2008 crash. The baby, a girl, was delivered by Caesarean section and died five days later.

Jorgensen is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide of Mary and Robert Kelly and the baby, Ashley Jorgensen. She also faces three second-degree manslaughter charges and a count of driving while impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs. All are felonies.

During closing arguments Monday, defense attorney Paul Gianelli of Hauppauge said the lab evidence showing intoxication was weak and poorly performed. He noted that no one at the crash scene smelled alcohol on Jorgensen's breath or saw signs of intoxication.

But Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe noted that Ashley's blood also had alcohol in it, further evidence of her mother's drinking. She also said evidence showed Jorgensen was talking on her cell phone as drove into the Kellys' lane on Whiskey Road in Ridge.

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