Opening statements begin in Rahmel Watkins chain-reaction crash trial

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Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of one of the drivers in a chain-reaction crash that killed a newly engaged couple in Nassau.

The prosecutor says traffic camera video shows 35-year-old Rahmel Watkins driving recklessly on a wet, foggy road as he tries to pass his friend, Zakiyyah Stewart, while driving nearly 100 mph. He says the car lost control, crossed into oncoming traffic and into the couple's car, killing them.

Watkins faces multiple manslaughter and other felony charges for the deaths of 20-year-old Yisroel Levin and 21-year-old Elisheva Kaplan.

Stewart was arrested and charged with DWI and being the under the influence of drugs. She pleaded guilty in February.

Watkins' attorney says his client was just trying to avoid Stewart’s car. "It is a tragic set of circumstances between the speed, the weather conditions and  the operation of the other driver who was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana,” he says. “That's what caused this incident not because my client was driving at an excessive rate of speed despite what they claim."

Officials say Watkins is being held on a $1 million bond.

The Nassau County prosecutor says the case is expected to last about two to three weeks.

 

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