A home-improvement contractor accused of the hit-and-run death of a Miller Place woman appeared in court Tuesday on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Prosecutors say Christopher Campbell, 35, of Sound Beach, drove off after his commercial box truck struck Tracy Mangino, 40, near her home on North Country Road the night of Oct. 18.
If convicted of the felony charge, Campbell faces up to 7 years in prison.
Campbell pleaded not guilty before Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip. He was released on $100,000 bond and is due back in court May 12.
The victim's father, Michael Mangino of Ronkonkoma, said after the arraignment that he believes Campbell left the scene because he'd been drinking and feared facing a more serious charge.
"I can't speak for him, but we feel he did," Mangino said as he comforted his 15-year-old granddaughter, Serena Mangino.
"The law needs to be changed for leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality, or any kind of leaving the scene of an accident," he said.
Prosecutors in Nassau and Suffolk counties have called on state lawmakers to increase penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident resulting in a fatality or serious injuries.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Miller said outside court that she could not speculate on whether Campbell had been drinking.
"Unfortunately we'll never know what Mr. Campbell's status was that night," she said.
Campbell has pending charges for drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident from June 2012, when he was arrested in Port Jefferson after he sideswiped a parked car, authorities said.
Defense attorney Robert Macedonio of Central Islip said his client has no prior convictions and surrendered voluntarily after learning he'd been indicted.
Miller said security videos from houses on the street led police to Campbell, who lives nearby, but it required months of lab work to gather sufficient evidence for an indictment.
Campbell is the owner of CPC Contracting, a home-improvement firm, records show.
Mangino said his daughter was killed as she was returning home after being out with friends. At the time of the 11:15 p.m. accident, she was walking east on North Country Road, east of Block Island Drive, authorities said.
A passing motorist called 911. She was taken by ambulance to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where she was pronounced dead.
Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Michael Mangino held a picture of his daughter and granddaughter, taken about five years ago.
"My daughter," he said.
Said Serena: "My best friend."