Immediately after a Lindenhurst teenager's small sport utility vehicle was hit from behind on Montauk Highway, its back end snapped sideways and the SUV tumbled rapidly down the road, a video played yesterday in a Riverhead courtroom showed.
The SUV's driver, Brittney Walsh, 18, was killed. The driver of the Nissan Maxima that hit her, Michael Grasing, 33, of West Babylon, is on trial charged with second-degree murder before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen. Other videos shown to jurors Wednesday depict his car heading another three blocks west on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst the night of June 24, 2012.
This is Suffolk's first drunken driving murder trial in 14 years. Prosecutors say Grasing drove recklessly at high speed with a blood-alcohol content of .32 percent -- four times the legal limit -- when he hit Walsh's Kia Sportage.
The video taken from a Sound and Beyond store shows Grasing's car moving left from the right westbound lane and hit Walsh's SUV. The SUV ultimately crashed into the front of Billy's Bar and Grill and a telephone pole, landing on its left side with Walsh partially pinned beneath it.
Surveillance video from two other businesses showed Grasing's car continuing west on the sidewalk, sparks flying as he hit street signs. Michael Felicitti, owner of Ralph's Italian Ices in Lindenhurst, testified that his shop was busy when he heard the approaching car.
"It sounded like street signs going down," he said during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe. "Ping, ping, ping."
Video from his shop shows customers leaping out of the way as Grasing's car hit flower beds in front of a parking lot.
Felicitti said he ran outside and saw the Maxima crashed into a phone pole down the block. He ran down and saw Grasing "kind of slunched over." After about 45 seconds, Grasing unlocked the door and Felicitti said he helped him out and walked him to the sidewalk.
Police arrived right away and Felicitti said Grasing, wearing a bathing suit, T-shirt and no shoes, said, "I have to go. I have to go."
But during cross-examination by defense attorney William Keahon, Felicitti acknowledged he testified differently before a grand jury two years ago. Then, Felicitti said that as the police arrived, Grasing said, "I'm not going. I'm not going."
Felicitti said Grasing was unsteady and believed he had been hurt in the crash.
Earlier Wednesday, Keahon cross-examined Police Officer Patrick Hughes about where tire marks showed the impact. Keahon suggested the impact was closer to the white dotted lane markers, showing Grasing did not go far into Walsh's lane to hit her.
During his questioning of Hughes, Keahon also suggested his client may have been blinded by the air bag going off after hitting Walsh, which could account for why he drove down the sidewalk afterward.