A drunk driver who killed a Queens cyclist will be free to drive again in fewer than six years, under the terms of a plea agreement from District Attorney Richard Brown.
Alex Batista was charged with second degree manslaughter, driving under the influence and leaving the scene after he ran down Roger Hernandez on Greenpoint Avenue on the night of July 18, 2012. Brown told the Sunnyside Post that Batista was driving “at a high rate of speed” when he overtook Hernandez, bouncing the victim off the windshield of his car and nearly striking several pedestrians. Police found Batista laying on a sidewalk after he crashed into a building 10 blocks away. He was also charged with disorderly conduct for being uncooperative and approaching an officer “in a threatening manner.”
Hernandez, a 37-year-old handyman who was reportedly carrying a bouquet of flowers on his bike, died at the scene.
Said Brown, last July: “This defendant’s decision to get behind the wheel of a car while allegedly intoxicated is incomprehensible and cost an innocent young man his life. Drinking and driving is never a good idea — and all too often has deadly consequences.”
Batista could have gotten up to 15 years in jail on the manslaughter charge. On Monday he pled guilty to a top charge of assault — a D felony, the second-least severe felony category — and misdemeanor DWI, according to court records. Batista will be sentenced to five years in prison. He will not be eligible for parole, according to a spokesperson for Brown’s office.
It would be reasonable to assume that, at the very least, a motorist who commits such a wanton act of deadly violence would forfeit his driving privileges for life. But according to the Post, Batista’s license will be suspended for just six months upon the completion of his jail sentence. After three years, he will be permitted to drive without an ignition interlock device.
Alex Batista is but the latest killer motorist to benefit from the largesse of DA Brown and New York’s forgiving traffic justice system.
In another deal brokered by Brown’s office, Kent Lowrie pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received five years probation, a $1,000 fine, and a six-month license revocation for hitting 6-year-old Zhaneya Butcher in Jamaica. According to reports, prosecutors feared Lowrie was not drunk enough to get a manslaughter conviction.
Last December, Demitrios Matsoukatidis received probation for killing Ditmars senior Lizardo Aldama. Brown’s office reported that Matsoukatidis had a blood alcohol content of .16, twice the legal limit for driving. Like Batista, he was charged with second degree manslaughter and DWI. Our query to Brown’s office concerning the Matsoukatidis plea bargain was not returned.