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N.Y. Appellate court overturns conviction of Ann Marie Drago

Robert Mickens (from top left), Elizabeth Alvarado, Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members, during Trump's speech.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais
/
AP
Robert Mickens (from top left), Elizabeth Alvarado, Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members, during President Trump's speech.

A New York appellate court has overturned the murder conviction of Ann Marie Drago, a Patchogue woman who ran over anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez in 2018. Drago was sentenced to nine months for negligent homicide after a confrontation with Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and several others were attending a memorial at a vigil set up outside Drago’s home for Rodriguez's 16-year-old daughter, Kayla Cuevas, who federal prosecutors believe was killed by MS-13.

Drago’s jail sentence was stayed while she pursued her appeal.

In their decision, a four-judge panel unanimously agreed that the prosecutor's closing argument “mischaracterized the evidence” and “confused the jury by repeatedly using language” suggesting Drago intentionally killed Rodriguez.

The court ordered a new trial and cited Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp for misconduct by “inflaming the jury’s emotions”.

In a statement, Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney faulted former District Attorney Tim Sini and the assistant district attorneys who oversaw the trial. He said none of them are still on staff.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.