Queens DA Declines to Prosecute Driver Who Killed Delivery Man

A makeshift memorial on 35th Street for Xing Long Lin. Melinda Katz has declined to prosecute his killer. File photo: Julianne Cuba
A makeshift memorial on 35th Street for Xing Long Lin. Melinda Katz has declined to prosecute his killer. File photo: Julianne Cuba

The woman who killed a delivery worker in Queens in April will walk away free, thanks to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who quietly revealed last week that she will not prosecute the driver, a move that has shocked victims’ advocates. 

The top prosecutor claimed her office could not press criminal charges against the driver, Maro Andrianou, who was allegedly moving at roughly twice the speed limit when she struck and killed 37-year-old Xing Long Lin on 35th Street near Ditmars Boulevard on April 29 and then plowed into an outdoor dining structure, injuring another person.

Katz said her office conducted a thorough investigation, and even claimed that the “high rate of speed” at which Andrianou’s Mercedes-Benz was traveling could have been due to a manufacturer error after she was hit from behind by another car on the narrow residential road — even though Katz herself does not rule out that it still may have been the driver’s fault, her own foot on the gas.

“The sudden acceleration of the vehicle and subsequent loss of control cannot be adequately explained and may have been due to a mechanical defect, as had been reported by other drivers with that make and model vehicle or it may have been attributed to driver error,” Katz wrote in a Nov. 15 letter that was quietly uploaded to her office’s website yet never shared with the press. “In any event, there is no credible evidence upon which to base a criminal prosecution and our investigation into this tragedy is closed.”

Even a lawyer for Andrianou (who used the surname Yerolemou, her ex-husband previously told Streetsblog) was shocked to hear of his client’s vindication. 

“I didn’t even know that. You’d think they’d have the courtesy to contact her attorney,” said Robert Arena, who agreed with Katz’s synopsis of the case. “She lost control of the vehicle, she really did.”

Delivery worker Xing Long Lin was killed by a reckless driver in Astoria, Queens on April 29, 2021.
Delivery worker Xing Long Lin was killed by a driver in Astoria on April 29.

While Arena was surprised at the news, advocates were outraged by it, saying Katz failed not only Lin, but every delivery worker who risks his or her life on the dangerous streets of New York City, as well as every person who rides a bike for transportation in a city dominated by cars.

“Xing Long Lin and his family deserve justice,” Laura Shepard, the Queens Organizer for Transportation Alternatives wrote on Twitter. “Extremely disturbed to hear that Melinda Katz is letting his killer get away with this. Our streets are not safe when drivers who harm vulnerable road users are not held accountable and do not face consequences for their behavior.”

Katz added that the “vehicle was impounded and inspected,” but that the examination was “hampered” because of damage to the car. Indeed, Streetsblog spotted the badly damaged black luxury car in front of the 114th Precinct station house days after the crash; the extensive damage to its front and back, including a detached rear bumper, suggested a high-speed crash.

The wreckage of the car that killed Xing Long Lin back in April in Astoria. Photo: Julianne Cuba
The wreckage of the car that killed Xing Long Lin back in April in Astoria. File photo: Julianne Cuba

It’s unclear how much of an inspection the DA’s office could have done, given the damage. The crash black box system, which records speed, acceleration, and other auto functions, was never recovered or analyzed, according to Andrianou’s attorney.

As they have in many fatal crashes, cops tried to absolve the driver, claiming that Andrianou may have had a “medical episode” when she veered into the bike lane, killing the husband and father, who worked for a nearby sushi restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard.

But the ex-husband previously told Streetsblog that his ex-wife’s health was perfectly fine, though he corroborated the DA’s decision, saying Andrianou was on her way to church when another car rammed her from behind, sending her into panic mode. She was unable to stop the car from careening down the street into Lin and the restaurant dining shed.

Andrianou’s attorney also parroted that theory, and claims there is video evidence to prove it. Streetsblog has asked for the video, but it has not yet been provided. And witnesses had told reporters on the scene that night back in April that the woman was going upwards of 50 miles-per-hour on the narrow, residential street when she ran over Lin.

And moving violation tickets associated with the car’s plate show it’s been nabbed four times for speeding in a school zone, all of which took place in August and September, 2019, according to How’s My Driving; though it’s unclear who was driving on those occasions as the tickets are just associated with the plate, not a driver.

A spokesperson for Katz defended her decision, saying the DA has prosecuted many vehicular crimes since taking office in January, 2020, and that Lin’s death in this particular case did not warrant criminal prosecution.

“The DA has been steadfast in her commitment to making Queens streets safer and holding accountable those who abuse the rules of the road,” Chris Policano, the spokesman, said in a statement to Streetsblog on Tuesday. “Each set of facts and circumstances is examined individually, and this office found no credible evidence to demonstrate any criminal intent or behavior leading up to the tragic, accidental death of Xing Long Lin.”

Advocates for victims have long argued — and the state’s highest court has affirmed — that a driver need not have prior criminal intent in order to be found guilty of such vehicular crimes as failure to yield. In this case, Katz could simply have charged Andrianou with failure to exercise due care, a low-level crime.

Mercedes-Benz did not respond to a request for comment.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Melinda Katz Tries to Kill Queens Blvd Bike Lane in the Name of “Community”

|
This was the community’s reaction to the @NYC_DOT proposal @MelindaKatz @StreetsblogNYC pic.twitter.com/JyyXFroWwK — Jaime Andrés (@jaimeamonc) May 12, 2016 Tuesday night’s meeting on the redesign of Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst was one of the uglier exercises in petty community board obstructionism in recent memory. Queens Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol said the safety of cyclists […]