As a Coram man remains charged with leaving the scene of a hit-and-run in June – an incident that eventually took the life of 56-year-old Karen Benjamin, who died weeks after the crash due to brain trauma – a spokesman for the district attorney says that no more charges are expected to be forthcoming.
Thomas Costa, 31, was arraigned on Wednesday, pleading not guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident without reporting under the state's vehicle and traffic law.
Authorities said that Costa struck Benjamin on Canal Road in Mt. Sinai around 11 a.m. on June 26, and after doing so, proceeded to drop the car off at his parents' house, just over two miles away in Mt. Sinai. Costa, an ex-con out on parole following a second-degree attempted burglary charge, reportedly told his parents – whom authorities said were cooperative during the investigation – that his car was vandalized at a night club in Patchogue. Suffolk County Police said the found it with a smashed windshield and blood spattered on the car.
Due to the fact that he fled, said a spokesman for D.A. Thomas Spota, holding up a vehicular manslaughter charge would not be possible because evidence of intoxication behind the wheel is necessary to convict.
Costa was not apprehended until two weeks after he reportedly struck Benjamin, wrote spokesman Bob Clifford in an email, "and therefore there is no evidence of DWI or drug use at the time of the collision. We cannot legally sustain additional charges against the defendant at this time.
"That is why D.A. Spota continues to call for tougher penalties for leaving the scene."