RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Suffolk County's first drunken driving murder trial in more than 14 years begins Thursday.
Michael Grasing, of Babylon, is charged with second-degree murder. His blood-alcohol level was four times the legal limit in June 2012 when he ran red lights at speeds approaching 100 mph, even driving on the sidewalk before slamming into the rear of 18-year-old Brittney Walsh's SUV, authorities said.
Murder Trial Begins For Alleged Drunken Driver Michael Grasing On Long Island
Walsh died at the scene in Lindenhurst.
The impact of the crash caused Walsh's car to flip multiple times before striking a utility pole, police said.
Typically, drunken drivers who kill someone face manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges. But Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said Grasing's behavior was so reckless and depraved that it warranted the more serious charge.
Walsh had graduated from high school 48 hours before the crash.
"Very emotional, hard," her mother Cheryl Walsh told CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan," Doing the best we can, we have to for her, for Brittney's sake.
The Walsh family, parents Cheryl and Tom, and brother Sean, are now preparing for a difficult trial.
"He was .30 in his blood alcohol system. they said if he had one more drink he probably would have passed out," Cheryl said.
The District Attorney said that Grasing was so drunk that he drove through multiple red lights and across lanes of traffic without braking.
"Ignoring pleas to get off the road before he killed someone, defendant Grasing kept driving until he crashed into the back of Mrs. Walsh," District Attorney Tom Spota, said.
Grasing allegedly drove on the sidewalk for three blocks, taking out street signs, and causing pedestrians to scatter.
"Michael Grasing is married, 4-year-old son, I believe in his innocence, I am not going to comment about the case itself, but I will defend this vigorously," Defense Attorney William Keahon said.
Walsh's parents said that Grasing stole a child's bright future. She was headed to college, an athlete and an academic standout. Now, her family is ripped apart.
"If this can help, say 'hey, I can't be drinking and driving, because I can go to jail for murder,' maybe it can help someone. That is our goal," Cheryl said.
Jury selection is nearly completed and the trial will get underway, it could last until Thanksgiving.
Grasing has pleaded not guilty.
If convicted of murder, he could face a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories
for more features.