The Flanders man accused of hitting and killing a newspaper delivery woman in Hampton Bays earlier this month while driving drunk pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, including two counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and aggravated vehicular homicide, at his arraignment in Central Islip on January 23.
Joseph Perez, 30, was also arraigned on a felony count of second-degree manslaughter and misdemeanor charges of aggravated DWI, two counts of DWI and reckless driving, as well as leaving the scene of an accident, a violation, according to authorities.
Judge Fernando Camacho set bail at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond, according to Lane Bubka, Mr. Perez’s attorney. As of earlier this week, Mr. Perez had not made bail and continues to be held at the Rikers Island correctional facility in Queens, where he has been incarcerated since his arrest on January 5.
Investigators learned that Mr. Perez crashed into a parked car in the parking lot of Dream nightclub in Hampton Bays at about 4:15 a.m. that day, then proceeded to drive west on Montauk Highway, according to an email from Bob Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota. Police say Mr. Perez was speeding when he sideswiped a parked car on Main Street, just over a mile and half from the nightclub, then continued driving on the shoulder of the road until he crashed into another parked car a short distance away.
The second car belonged to Donna Sartori, 55, of Middle Island, who was delivering that day’s edition of the New York Daily News. Ms. Sartori was standing outside her car at the time of the crash and was killed. Police have declined to publicly specify how the car came into contact with Ms. Sartori or how exactly she died.
An officer who responded to the scene determined that Mr. Perez was intoxicated, despite his refusal to consent to a blood test, according to Mr. Clifford. After obtaining a warrant, police took a sample of Mr. Perez’s blood three hours and 45 minutes after the accident and tests showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.20 percent at that time, two and a half times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to the DA’s office.
Mr. Perez gave a statement to police that he had “blacked out” and did not remember driving, Mr. Clifford explained in the same email.
Mr. Bubka said his client’s family was unable to post bail. Mr. Perez was originally arraigned on a misdemeanor DWI charge in Southampton Town Justice Court on January 16. A spokesman with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Perez is being held at Rikers rather than the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside for security reasons, though he was unable to provide a further explanation.
“He’s certainly remorseful,” Mr. Bubka said of his client. “He recognizes that this is a tragedy, and he obviously didn’t intend for any of this to happen and he wishes none of it took place.”
The attorney also noted that Mr. Perez is a single father with a 10-year-old boy, who is staying with Mr. Perez’s parents.
Mr. Bubka said he planned to file a discovery demand and expected the prosecution to offer a plea deal.
In 2006, Mr. Perez was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon and sentenced to five years’ probation, which could affect his sentence, Mr. Bubka said.
Mr. Perez is due back in court on Tuesday, February 4.
Staff writer Kyle Campbell contributed to this story.