CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY) - A grand jury has indicted a Long Island nurse and mother in the death of anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez, authorities announced Friday.
Annmarie Drago was the driver who hit and killed Rodriguez more than two months ago, according to the Suffolk County district attorney. Drago, 58, was arraigned on the indictment Friday morning.
"When all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident are revealed, it will be shown that my client's actions were neither intentional nor reckless," Stephen Kunken, Drago's attorney, said.
Drago stood with her head down as she pleaded not guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide, petit larceny, and criminal mischief. While her attorney called it nothing short of an accident, Rodriguez's family said it could've been prevented.
"I hope she did mean she was sorry but a sorry doesn't bring my mother back," Kelsey Cuevas, Rodriguez's older daughter, said.
Rodriguez was killed while setting up a memorial in Brentwood to mark the second anniversary of the death of her daughter Kayla Cuevas, 16, who was viciously murdered by members of MS-13.
Prosecutors said Drago stole and intentionally destroyed parts of the memorial to protect the sale of her mother's home near the site. But when Rodriguez and her longtime partner, Freddy confronted Drago, it turned deadly.
"Despite the fact that Evelyn was in front of the vehicle with her hands on the car, despite Freddy's warnings, the defendant abruptly accelerated," District Attorney Timothy Sini said.
Friends who showed up to support Rodriguez said they were angry that Drago was released without bail.
"This was a money motive. She did not want to lose that money from the closing," one friend said. "So for twenty-stupid-thousand dollars, Evelyn is dead."
Drago's top charge carries a maximum of four years in jail. She is due back in court in January.
Rodriguez's friends and family plan to do everything in their power to make sure justice is served.