Man found guilty of manslaughter in wrong-way crash

Posted: Updated:
CENTRAL ISLIP -

A Sound Beach man who drunkenly drove the wrong way on Sunrise Highway and killed a man was found guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter on Monday.

Prosecutors say Christopher O'Brien drove for 8 miles the wrong way before the crash in Yaphank, killing Thomas D'Eletto just two days before Christmas 2015. After the crash, prosecutors say he had a blood alcohol level of 0.17 -- more than twice the legal limit -- and cocaine in his system.

O'Brien was found guilty in a nonjury trial of second-degree manslaughter, DWI and reckless driving. Prosecutors tried to convict him on a second-degree murder charge, saying his actions showed depraved indifference. But Judge Fernando Camacho said he had "reasonable doubt" and found O'Brien not guilty of murder.

"The verdict is exactly what we have been saying from the beginning, that this case was never a murder," says Scott Gross, O'Brien's attorney. "It was inappropriately charged as such, and the judge agreed."

D'Eletto's family was in court for the verdict but did not wish to comment afterward.

Drunken driving opponents say New York state needs to strengthen laws to discourage people from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

"I think it meets depraved indifference, but it would have to be changed in the law," says advocate Marge Lee.

O'Brien will be sentenced at the end of next month. He faces five to 15 years in prison on the top count of manslaughter, and prosecutors say they will be pushing for the maximum sentence.

  • SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Dog Day Fridays for August 17

    Dog Day Fridays for August 17

    Friday, August 17 2018 8:18 AM EDT2018-08-17 12:18:00 GMT
    Bailey is a Hound mix, just under 2 years old. She was recently surrendered to the shelter by her owner. Bailey is a sweet and playful dog. She behaves well with children and other friendly dogs. She would be the perfect companion for any household.Bailey is a Hound mix, just under 2 years old. She was recently surrendered to the shelter by her owner. Bailey is a sweet and playful dog. She behaves well with children and other friendly dogs. She would be the perfect companion for any household.

    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Bobbi and the Strays. The shelter is located at 2 Rider Place in Freeport. Their phone number is (516) 378-4340

    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Bobbi and the Strays. The shelter is located at 2 Rider Place in Freeport. Their phone number is (516) 378-4340

  • Aftermath of bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy

    Aftermath of bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy

    A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.
    A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.

    A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble.

    A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble.

  • Just Married on Long Island

    Just Married on Long Island

    News 12 Long Island wants to announce your wedding. Share your pictures and videos with News 12 Long Island viewers!

    News 12 Long Island wants to announce your wedding. Share your pictures and videos with News 12 Long Island viewers!

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."