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Mastic teen faces upgraded charge in fatal crash

Ryan Foote, 17, at Central Islip Criminal Court,

Ryan Foote, 17, at Central Islip Criminal Court, where he had a court appearance for the crash that killed two of his passengers. (July 27, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

A Mastic teenager was sent back to jail Tuesday after Suffolk prosecutors increased the charges against him resulting from a crash that killed two of his friends last month.

Ryan Foote, 17, had been charged with driving while intoxicated and was free on bail of $100,000 cash. He was arrested after a July 21 crash killed his passengers, James "J.J." McClease, 18, of Mastic, and Rashawn "Chucky" Minter, 17, of Mastic Beach.

But after toxicology results showed that Foote not only had a blood-alcohol content of .14 percent -- nearly twice the legal limit -- but also had marijuana in his system, Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco said a grand jury indicted Foote with aggravated vehicular homicide. It carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

Brosco said Foote spent the afternoon getting high before drinking two or three tall cans of Bud Light.

"He told the police he knew he was going to get drunk, but didn't think it was a big deal because he lived only a block away from where he was going," Brosco said.

After he picked up McClease and Minter, Foote lost control of his car and hit three trees, Brosco said. The victims died when they were thrown from the car.

Foote had been free on bail of $250,000 bond, but Brosco asked State Supreme Court Justice William Condon to increase the bail to $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.

Condon agreed. As court officers handcuffed Foote, his mother put her face in her hands.

Foote's attorney, Michael Malone of Southampton, said his client is being wrongfully accused. By the time police arrived at the crash scene, all three of the occupants were outside the car. Malone said police had Foote sign a statement agreeing to their version of what happened.

Malone declined to say if someone else was driving.

"That'll come out in court," he said.

He later asked Condon to put his client in protective custody at the Suffolk County Jail, because he heard some victims' family members may be associated with the Bloods street gang and could try to hurt Foote in jail.

Condon granted the request. Prosecutors declined to comment on it.

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