Overturned conviction in death of anti-MS-13 activist sparks outrage on Long Island

Lauren Glassberg Image
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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The daughter of Evelyn Rodriguez is calling for justice after AnnMarie Drago's conviction was overturned in the accused killing of the MS-13 activist. Lauren Glassberg has the story.

CENTRAL ISLIP, Long Island (WABC) -- There was heartbreak and outrage on Long Island Tuesday, just days after a court overturned the conviction of the driver accused of killing an MS-13 activist.

The daughter of Evelyn Rodriguez and other Suffolk County leaders are now calling for justice once again.

"I wish heaven could have a phone so I could just talk to her," Kelsey Cuevas said.

Cuevas desperately misses her mother Evelyn Rodriguez, a woman who became an activist against gangs on Long Island after MS-13 murdered her other daughter, Kayla Cuevas.

"My mother Evelyn Rodriguez was my hero, my all, and our community warrior," Cuevas said.

Rodriguez was a community warrior who was recognized by former President Donald Trump in a state of the union address, and who lobbied Congress.

But two years after Kayla Cuevas was murdered, Rodriguez was also killed, at the very same spot where her daughter was found dead.

Rodriguez had been setting up a memorial to her daughter when she was run over.

AnnMarie Drago was convicted of causing Rodriguez's death, but last week that conviction was overturned on a technicality.

"To use those technicalities to overturn is definitely injustice and unfair," Suffolk County legislator Sam Gonzalez said.

On Tuesday, there was outrage over the reversal and a push for the new district attorney to retry the case.

"Well today it's showtime Mr. Tireny, you need demonstrate that you are the man to us," community activist Barbara Medina said.

Prosecutors had argued that Drago didn't want the memorial near her home and that she was trying to sell because it would scare off buyers.

Drago, who is a nurse and a mother, had only served a week of time before she was released while awaiting her appeal.

It's another injustice for Kelsey Cuevas, a young woman who has lost so much.

"They get to see her on holidays while I visit mine at a grave site," Cuevas said.

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