Trial begins in death of anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez
LONG ISLAND - Opposing narratives were outlined in court on Thursday as the trial of Ann Marie Drago got underway.
Drago, a nurse and mother of two, is accused of running over and killing anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez had set up a memorial in Brentwood outside Drago's mother's home to mark the second anniversary of the death of her 16-year-old daughter Kayla Cuevas, who was brutally murdered by members of MS-13.
Drago pleaded not guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide, criminal mischief and petit larceny. Prosecutors say she dismantled, discarded and defaced the memorial in order to protect the sale of her mother's home. When she was confronted by Rodriguez and her partner, prosecutors say Drago did the unthinkable.
A 911 call from witness Eileen Lehpamer was played for the jury. The News 12 reporter was at the scene shooting video with her crew and planned to cover the vigil later that day. While Drago's attorney calls Rodriguez's death an unimaginable tragedy, he asked jurors to pay attention to what was going on inside the mind of his client who he says has a long history of PTSD.
Drago’s trial is expected to last about 3 weeks and she could face a maximum of 4 years in prison if convicted.