A Great Neck man has been sentenced to up to four years in prison for his role in the death of a 20-year-old ejected from the hood of his car, according to county officials.
Officials said 21-year-old Christian Arevalo was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in November but was acquitted on charges of murder and manslaughter in the death of Corey Howell. On Friday, acting state Supreme Court Judge William O’Brien sentenced Arevalo to 16 months to 4 years in prison, according to officials.
“Nothing less than the maximum will suffice for justice in this case,” O’Brien said, according to Newsday.
Officials said O’Brien handed down the highest penalty under Arevalo’s single-count conviction. Arevalo’s defense attorney William Kephart said he believed his client was given a sentence that exceeded the nature of the crime.
“Given the jury’s verdict, this was the most a judge could do,” Kephart said. “We thought a little bit less would be appropriate as well … We said from the beginning that this was never murder. It’s not even manslaughter. All those charges were dismissed by the jury.”
Arevalo and Howell got into a dispute that soon became physical on Aug. 11, 2017, according to officials. Arevalo then entered his mother’s 2013 Nissan Altima and drove into Manhasset going upwards of 60 miles per hour, with Howell clinging to the hood, police said.
The Altima hit a curb, which launched Howell from the hood, according to prosecutors. Howell suffered head, neck and spine injuries, police said, which proved fatal.
According to Newsday, Howell’s mother, Maxine, sobbed to the judge and said that the actions that Arevalo took against her son transformed her into a “sad” and “hopeless” mother. Attempts to reach her and other family members were unavailing.
In May, an appellate panel unanimously reinstated a charge of second-degree murder against Arevalo. The four-member panel of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Brooklyn said acting state Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn erred in his initial dismissal of the indictment in 2018.
Quinn said a prosecutor acted unethically in withholding evidence that would have benefited the defense after dismissing the indictment.
The panel wrote that the prosecutor was not obligated to present evidence the defendant believed to be favorable to him “as such evidence was not entirely exculpatory and would not have materially influenced the grand jury’s investigation.”
Brian Griffin and Daniel Russo, two attorneys who represented Arevalo at the time, said that Howell was the aggressor and Arevalo “was the victim of a violent and sustained attack by Mr. Howell and others” in May.
“This defendant’s unconscionable recklessness cost a 20-year-old man his life, and though he received the maximum sentence allowed by law, this case underscores the need to strengthen the penalties for criminally negligent homicide,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, said in a statement.
“Under new laws, a defendant who commits criminally negligent homicide cannot be held in jail before trial, regardless of their criminal history or the danger they pose to the public. It’s critical that the legislature correct this glaring deficiency in the law.”