By Jeremy Walsh
The drunk driver who mowed down two people in a stolen car in Middle Village last year has pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Kenneth Guyear, 28, admitted to the charge last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court, nearly a year after the fatal incident. He is expected to be sentenced by Judge Dorothy Chin-Brandt to between 7 1/2 and 15 years in prison Feb. 23.
“The defendant has admitted his guilt to a terrible and tragic crime and will serve serious prison time, giving him time to reflect upon his reckless actions that resulted in the untimely death of two young men,” Brown said in a statement. “This case once again underscores the impact of a person’s decision to get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol.”
Middle Village resident Robert Ogle, 16, and Brooklyn resident Alex Paul, 20, were walking home from a birthday party early in the morning Feb. 1, 2009. As they neared 80th Street and 62nd Avenue, Guyear struck them both with the 2001 Kia he had stolen.
Guyear told police he had taken the car from in front of a store near Woodhaven Boulevard and Alderton Street, where its driver had left it idling with the key in the ignition.
After hitting Robert and Paul, Guyear left the scene but was stopped near Dry Harbor Road and Woodhaven Boulevard by police officers who were canvassing the area following a 911 call reporting the stolen vehicle and the pedestrians being struck.
Police noted Guyear smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech. An intoxilyzer test performed at the 112th Precinct indicated he had a blood alcohol level of .126, well over the legal limit. Guyear also told police he drank five or six alcoholic beverages and took two Xanax pills, Brown said.
The repercussions of Robert’s death were widely felt. After the incident, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) introduced a bill that increased penalties for drivers who leave their cars idling unattended from $5 to $250. The bill was signed into law last fall.
Additionally, the Ogle family has filed a lawsuit against Guyear, the owner of the stolen car and the parents of the teen whose party Robert and Paul had been attending, alleging the young people had been allowed to drink alcohol. The suit seeks unspecified damages. It goes before a Queens Supreme Court judge April 19.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.