By Jano Tantongco
Twenty-one-year-old Brandon Charles, of Wheatley Heights, pleaded guilty last week to a second-degree manslaughter charge for his role in a fatal Melville crash in 2014, authorities said. During the pretrial hearing at First District Court in Central Islip on March 9, Charles also waived his right to an appeal.
Charles’ plea also covers charges of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, according to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.
The fatal crash, which occurred on Nov. 1, 2014, killed 19-year-old Carla Vanessa Flores, of Wyandanch, who was riding in the car with Charles and 22-year-old Joseph Dunn, of Dix Hills. Authorities said the speeding car skidded and flipped over, killing Flores, who was sitting in the backseat.
At the crash scene, the intersection of Colonial Springs Road and Little Neck Road, Charles did not tell police that he was driving the vehicle, which was owned by Dunn, who was arrested for possessing a fake New Jersey driver’s license.
Blood found on the driver’s side door of the 2002 Chevrolet Camaro led investigators to determine that Charles was driving when the crash occurred.
Charles initially pleaded guilty in September 2015 to a manslaughter charge, but that plea vacated when his new defense attorney motioned to claim “ineffective assistance of counsel,” according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota.
Clifford added, “A grand jury voted to charge the defendant… based upon the observation of the police officer at the crash scene.”
Charles faces three to nine years in prison, according to Spota. Charles is set to be sentenced May 4 by state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho.