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Violence of collision that killed Lindehurst teen shown at murder trial

Michael Grasing heads to his arraignment in Central

Michael Grasing heads to his arraignment in Central Islip Criminal Court on July 18, 2012. Grasing is charged with second-degree murder in the June 24, 2012, death of Brittney Walsh, 18. Credit: James Carbone

The extraordinary violence of a collision that left a Lindenhurst teenager dead was displayed Tuesday through photographs and video of the aftermath at the murder trial of the man charged with causing the crash while driving drunk.

When the video showed the outstretched arm of Brittney Walsh, 18, pinned beneath her Kia Sportage, the silence of state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen's courtroom was broken only by the sniffles from both her family and that of the defendant, Michael Grasing, 33, of West Babylon.

Grasing is charged with second-degree murder and other crimes -- a rare Suffolk County case of murder charged in a traffic death that prosecutors said was caused by drunken driving.

On June 24, 2012, two days after Walsh graduated from Copiague High School, prosecutors said Grasing drove recklessly, aggressively and at high speed with a .32 percent blood-alcohol content. He sped west on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst until his Nissan Maxima hit her sport utility vehicle from behind, sending it tumbling across the road into Billy's Bar and Grill and then a telephone pole, where it came to rest on its side.

Photos presented by Suffolk Police Officer Patrick Hughes showed Grasing's car continued west on the sidewalk until it hit a telephone pole, three blocks away. Grasing was hospitalized for several days.

Before the day started, Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe gently urged Walsh's parents, Thomas and Cheryl Walsh, to avoid seeing images of their daughter's crumpled body.

"It's not something you need to see," she told them.

Defense attorney William Keahon urged Cohen to limit the number of photos showing Walsh's head injuries, arguing the effect would be too prejudicial to his client, but Cohen allowed the photos. Newcombe had the most graphic photos passed among jurors and not shown on a screen.

During the daylong presentation of photos, the tremendous force of the crash was clear. Hughes pointed out gouges Walsh's car made in the road as it tumbled for a block. Blood was spattered on the pavement in front of the bar, and even though Walsh wore her seat belt, she was partly ejected and pinned when her SUV came to rest on its left side.

Photos showed a trail of car parts, scrapes and gouges leading from South 13th Street to where her car was stopped by a pole at Riviera Boulevard.

During a break, Keahon asked Cohen to let him subpoeana the autopsy report for John Patsalos, who police say vividly described Grasing's aggressive driving after the crash but died a few weeks later. Patsalos earlier served prison time for manslaughter for killing a man during a robbery.

"I believe he had a large amount of drugs in his system" when he died, Keahon said in court. Newcombe said there was no evidence of that and Cohen denied the request.

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