A Suffolk County grand jury has declined to issue an indictment of one count of criminally negligent homicide against a Suffolk County deputy sheriff involved in a that killed a Blue Point teenager in March on the Long Island Expressway.
In a letter hand delivered and dated August 10 to Jo Ann and Luigi Schettino, whose 18-year-old son Billy was fatally struck by a deputy sheriff’s vehicle driven by Richard Tedesco, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office states the grand jury made its determination after hearing testimony of 18 witnesses and viewing 32 exhibit presentations.
The letter, signed by Ian Fitzgerald, an assistant district attorney in the major crimes bureau, cites that a New York State Police accident reconstruction report concluded the “primary causative factors” in the vehicle fatality to be Schettino’s disabled car and Schettino standing in the HOV lane next to his disabled car. It also notes that “contributing causative factors” were the speed of the deputy’s vehicle at the time of the 6 p.m. crash and sun glare.
The letter states current state law prohibits prosecution, under NYS Penal Law Article 125, for vehicular crimes based upon speed alone involving fatal crashes.
Schettino, a Bayport-Blue Point graduate, was headed to college classes March 14 when his car was disabled after a hit and run near exit 59 on the LIE. He had called his mother and was awaiting help when he was struck and killed by a deputy sheriff's car driven by Tedesco.
The Schettinos told Patch they were stunned by the grand jury’s decision and the news that a grand jury had been convened.
“We didn’t know about the grand jury, our attorneys didn’t know about it and a man just shows up at my door at 1 p.m. and hands this letter to us,” said Jo Ann Schettino, who said she still has questions about what happened.
According to the Suffolk DA’s website, a grand jury consists of 23 persons selected from jury rolls; 16 members constitute a quorum and 12 are necessary to return a “true bill” and vote an indictment.
The letter states the Schettino’s legal representatives were asked to submit witness names and evidence to the grand jury but that none was forthcoming.
But the Schettinos claim that request was not presented to their lawyer, and if they had known, they would have provided at least one witness statement that indicates sun glare was not an issue.
“One of the people we have a signed statement from clearly states there was no sun glare happening at the time and that they saw a sheriff moving his vehicle right after the accident while my son was laying there dying,” Jo Ann Schettino said.
Calls to the Schettino's lawyer, Ted Rosenberg, of Rosenberg & Gluck in Holtsville, and calls and emails to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, were not returned Monday.
Receive updates to this story and other breaking news in your inbox or smartphone by signing up for our newsletter here.
In June, the Schettinos a Suffolk County Court to get details on the DA’s several-month investigation and to get their son's personal belongings returned.
The letter received this past Friday states all property belonging to Billy will be released.
But that’s not providing great solace to the Schettino family as they still feel they don't know what happened.
“I can’t understand how another parent [Tedesco] can’t understand that we want the truth about what happened and want to hear him in person say he is sorry," Jo Ann Schettino said. "I can’t understand why that has never happened."