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Teen gets up to 15 years for crash that killed his friends

"I stand here to receive justice for the crimes I have committed. I, too, hate myself for what I've done," Beer told a judge in Mineola, N.Y.
By Frances Burns   |   Aug. 26, 2014 at 3:39 PM   |   Comments

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MINEOLA, N.Y., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A New York City teenager said he hates himself for the crash that killed four of his friends as he was sentenced Tuesday to five to 15 years.

Joseph Beer, 19, apologized to the families of the victims. He admitted last month when he pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide that he had smoked marijuana before the crash.

"I stand here to receive justice for the crimes I have committed. I, too, hate myself for what I've done," Beer told a judge in Mineola, N.Y.

Beer was at the wheel of his Subaru and speeding in October 2012 when he lost control of the car on the Southern State Parkway in Nassau County and hit a tree. Neal Rajapa, 17, and Darian Ramnarine, Peter Kanhai and Christopher Kahn, all 18, were thrown from the car and killed.

The judge denied Beer's request to be treated as a youthful offender, subject to no more than four years in prison. Beer was 17 at the time of the crash and driving with a learner's permit.

Beer pleaded guilty after a jury deadlocked on the most serious charge of aggravated vehicular homicide while convicting him of lesser charges.

"Joseph Beer purposely smoked marijuana with the intent of driving and caused the deaths of the passengers who trusted him to get them home safely," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. "This sentence should be a clear message to everyone that if you are old enough to drive, you must be prepared to face the consequences of violent criminal behavior behind the wheel."

Topics: Marijuana
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