Defense of woman charged in Evelyn Rodriguez's death focuses on 2008 attack, PTSD

The trial of the Patchogue woman accused of running over and killing a Brentwood anti-gang activist continued Thursday, with jurors hearing from the defense about what happened that day.

News 12 Staff

Mar 5, 2020, 1:06 PM

Updated 1,503 days ago

Share:

The trial of the Patchogue woman accused of running over and killing a Brentwood anti-gang activist continued Thursday, with jurors hearing from the defense about what happened that day.
The prosecution wrapped up Wednesday after calling a police officer, a detective and the county medical examiner to testify.
As News 12 has reported, AnnMarie Drago is accused of running over Evelyn Rodriguez in September 2018 after a heated confrontation. Drago's attorney claims his client feared for her life.
Testimony centered around Drago as a victim of a vicious attack in a hospital psych unit. Drago, a nurse, was punched, dragged and choked by a patient in 2008. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Even though that incident occurred over a decade ago, she was still in therapy in September 2018 when she was confronted by Rodriguez and her longtime partner.
The two were upset that Drago had taken down a memorial to the couple's murdered teen daughter that was set up by the house of Drago's mother.
Clinical psychologist Elizabeth Smyth testified that even today, Drago remains "terrified, nervous and feels the worst is going to happen." She added about the hospital attack that "she suddenly acts or feels as if it's happening again."
Defense attorney Stephen Kunken argues that when his client struck and killed Rodriguez, she was just trying to escape from what she considered a dangerous situation.
"It's innate in all of us, that you're going to go into a survival mode if you feel you're under attack," says Kunken. "And you're more sensitive to that if you're suffering from PTSD as AnnMarie was."
A second psychologist who examined Drago for the defense also took the stand and testified that Drago was extremely frightened by the confrontation, unsure if she'd be beaten. He said the incident triggered PTSD symptoms, causing her to flee the situation as soon as she could.




More from News 12
1:40
West Islip student accused of bringing gun, bullets to high school pleads not guilty

West Islip student accused of bringing gun, bullets to high school pleads not guilty

2:19
Chances for showers next 2 days; cooler trend for rest of workweek

Chances for showers next 2 days; cooler trend for rest of workweek

1:04
Driver in fatal shooting of Detective Jonathan Diller pleads not guilty

Driver in fatal shooting of Detective Jonathan Diller pleads not guilty

0:22
Police: 2 officers injured while making arrest at Bellerose 7-Eleven

Police: 2 officers injured while making arrest at Bellerose 7-Eleven

0:30
Police: 23-year-old charged for scrawling antisemitic graffiti in East Meadow

Police: 23-year-old charged for scrawling antisemitic graffiti in East Meadow

0:40
More than 200 pizzerias on LI band together to raise money for fallen NYPD detective

More than 200 pizzerias on LI band together to raise money for fallen NYPD detective

1:52
‘Wastewater Olympics’ held in East Rockaway ahead of Earth Day

‘Wastewater Olympics’ held in East Rockaway ahead of Earth Day

1:50
Made on Long Island: Ronance Mouthwatering Morsels in Bellmore

Made on Long Island: Ronance Mouthwatering Morsels in Bellmore

2:23
State budget makes no change to foundation school aid; governor signals changes coming in 2026

State budget makes no change to foundation school aid; governor signals changes coming in 2026

1:43
Police: Several people hurt in Garden City bus crash

Police: Several people hurt in Garden City bus crash

1:32
Nassau Community College professors call on state to step in to help school survive

Nassau Community College professors call on state to step in to help school survive

1:56
State officials: More chemical drums could be buried beneath Bethpage baseball field

State officials: More chemical drums could be buried beneath Bethpage baseball field

1:33
Groundbreaking ceremony marks beginning of Jake's 58 Casino's $210M expansion project

Groundbreaking ceremony marks beginning of Jake's 58 Casino's $210M expansion project

1:32
Nassau residents deliver petition with more than 1,600 signatures against proposal to deputize residents

Nassau residents deliver petition with more than 1,600 signatures against proposal to deputize residents

Police: Driver arrested for fatal Brentwood hit-and-run

Police: Driver arrested for fatal Brentwood hit-and-run

0:26
Police: Central Islip business cited for violation after State Liquor Authority investigation

Police: Central Islip business cited for violation after State Liquor Authority investigation

1:39
Paws & Pals: Dogs up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue

Paws & Pals: Dogs up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue

4:39
Guide: Ways to help you identify and deal with work burnout

Guide: Ways to help you identify and deal with work burnout

1:49
Officials: Fire dispatcher's wife alerts him about blaze at their Centereach home

Officials: Fire dispatcher's wife alerts him about blaze at their Centereach home

0:32
State police: Trooper conducting traffic stop rear-ended on Meadowbrook State Parkway

State police: Trooper conducting traffic stop rear-ended on Meadowbrook State Parkway