Accused Unlicensed Hit-and-Run Killer on Trial in Brooklyn

A motorist who authorities say had a history of driving offenses and was driving without a license when he fatally struck a Brooklyn senior and fled the scene two years ago is on trial this week.

Isabel Rodriguez. Photo via Daily News
Wayne Stokeling is on trial this week for the hit-and-run killing of Isabel Rodriguez (pictured). New York State has a history of handing down light sentences to drivers who leave people to die in the street. Photo via Daily News

Isabel Rodriguez, 88, was walking with her 79-year-old sister on July 22, 2012, when Wayne Stokeling drove into her at Stone and Livonia Avenues in Brownsville, according to reports.

From the Daily News:

Cops spotted Stokeling’s BMW sedan a few blocks away from the crash with dents and a cracked windshield. He claimed the dents were caused by potholes, but was arrested for leaving the scene of a fatal accident and driving without a license.

He had an open warrant on a prior motor vehicle-related charge and four prior arrests, officials said.

“We were crossing the street,” Laura Chico, the victim’s sister, told the News. “I was calling, ‘Be careful, be careful.’ A car came fast and hit her when it turned. I went to her. I said, ‘Are you alive?’ I saw she was bleeding. I started crying.”

Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico, was already planning her 90th birthday party, which would have taken place this year, relatives said.

Stokeling, then 50, told police he was eating ice cream while driving and didn’t notice he’d hit anyone.

Court records say the top charge against Stokeling, filed by former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, was leaving the scene. Despite the circumstances of the case, Stokeling was not charged with homicide for killing Isabel Rodriguez.

Incredibly, in New York State you can kill someone while driving without a license and, even if you leave the scene, stand a decent chance of avoiding a lengthy jail sentence. In 2012, Paul O. Griffin was sentenced to six months in jail and a one-year license suspension for the hit-and-run death of 14-year-old Davonte Jeffers. Recidivist reckless driver Allmir Lekperic was given as little as 20 months for striking an elderly couple — Peter and Lillian Sabados, ages 78 and 77, respectively — and leaving them to die in the street in 2009. Both Griffin and Lekperic were driving without valid licenses when they killed their victims. In Lekperic’s case, the judge reportedly expressed regret that the sentence involved jail time at all.

Stokeling’s trial began Monday. We will post updates as we get them. 

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