2 drivers sentenced in 2018 crash that killed newly engaged couple

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The two drivers involved in a crash that killed a newly engaged couple in Inwood were sentenced Tuesday.

Rahmel Watkins, 36, was found guilty in the April 2018 crash that killed 20-year-old EliShiva Kaplan and her fiancé, 21-year-old Yisroel Levine, and was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

Zakiyyah Steward, who was part of a group of cars traveling in the northbound lanes of the Nassau Expressway, was sentenced to three to nine years in prison.

Prosecutors say Watkins was going more than 100 mph, passing Steward, when his car hit another vehicle head-on. They say the two were racing to a casino in Queens. 

MORE: Police: 2 dead in fiery crash in Inwood 
Opening statements begin in Rahmel Watkins chain-reaction crash trial 

According to police, Kaplan and Levine's car burst into flames after being hit.

Police say both drivers were driving high and drunk when they caused the chain reaction crash. Kaplan and Levine were driving home from a Passover celebration when the crash happened, and their families say they just announced their wedding plans.

Kaplan's father made an emotional plea, asking the court to sentence Watkins to 25 years to life in prison.

Watkins has a prior criminal record. Levine's father spoke after the sentencing, saying that he was angry and disappointed that the judge did not give Watkins the maximum sentence.

Watkins didn't speak during the sentencing, but Steward read a statement expressing her sorrow to the families.


 

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