The driver, Annmarie Drago, is facing charges of criminally negligent homicide, petit larceny, and criminal mischief.
BREAKING: Annmarie Drago leaves court after being arraigned on criminally negligent homicide charges in death of Evelyn Rodriguez pic.twitter.com/4vxnKAC3YN— Kristin Thorne (@KristinThorne) November 30, 2018
Rodriguez was struck and killed on September 14 while setting up a memorial in Brentwood to mark the second anniversary of the death of her 16-year-old daughter, Kayla Cuevas, and her 15-year-old friend Nisa Mickens, who were killed in gang-related violence.
"Our goal in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office is to seek justice," District Attorney Tim Sini said. "And that's what we've done here today. We've begun the process of justice."
Prosecutors allege that Drago stole some items in the memorial and then intentionally destroyed another part of it. Drago was reportedly trying to sell her mother's home, which is located near the memorial.
They say Rodriguez confronted Drago about it, which is when she was allegedly run over.
"Despite the fact that Evelyn was in front of the vehicle with her hands on the car...despite warnings, the defendant abruptly accelerated," Sini said.
Drago pleaded not guilty and was released without bail.
"All I can do is just pray and hope my mother, she gets justice," daughter Kelsey Cuevas said.
When asked why Drago was released without bail, Sini pointed out that the defendant did not leave the scene of the crime, had no criminal history, did not attempt to leave the country and voluntarily surrendered to police.
"I really hope that justice prevails and she pays," friend Vanessa Lopez said. "And she goes to jail for this."
A grand jury heard evidence, including testimony from Kayla's father, Freddy Cuevas, who witnessed the crash.
Rodriguez' death came two years to the day after her daughter's body was found. Kayla Cuevas and Mickens were walking when police say they were ambushed by MS-13 gang members and slaughtered.
Their deaths brought sudden attention to a string of killings of teenagers in the Long Island suburbs that had largely gone unnoticed, and in some cases, uninvestigated by police. After he became president, Donald Trump visited Brentwood and vowed a national crackdown on MS-13.
He recognized Rodriguez, Cuevas and Mickens' parents at the State of the Union address in January.
"Her roar was deafening, from the streets of Brentwood to the halls of Congress to the ears of the president himself," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said at her funeral.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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