Man pleads guilty in fatal Patchogue DWI

Joseph Keleher was charged with drunk driving after losing control of his Jeep on Edwards Street in Patchogue last August.

Joseph Keleher was charged with drunk driving after losing control of his Jeep on Edwards Street in Patchogue last August. (6/19/15)

CENTRAL ISLIP - A man accused of drunken driving and causing an accident that killed his friend pleaded guilty Friday.

Joseph Keleher, of Ronkonkoma, will be sentenced in September to 2 2/3 to 8 years in prison.

Police say Keleher, 25, was driving in Patchogue at Baker and Edwards streets in August 2014 when he failed to make a stop in the intersection. His SUV went up an embankment and flipped over, ejecting his lifelong friend Kevin Smith, who later died.

Smith's mother Patricia says she was angry Keleher was not sentenced to the maximum for aggravated vehicular homicide. Prosecutor John Prudente says the vehicle law needs to be rewritten by Albany.      

"Had this been designated a violent offense, which the district attorney has asked for on repeated occasions, the defendant would be serving every bit of those eight years," says Prudente.

Keleher is currently free on bail. He will be formally sentenced on Sept. 10.

Smith was an activist who was featured in a News 12 story in 2010. He spoke about saving the lives of recovering heroin addicts.

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