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Drunken driver in crash that killed couple near JFK Airport ‘should have been locked up’ after burglary spree

A wasted driver was involved in a deadly crash near Kennedy Airport after a Brooklyn judge bent over backwards to keep her out of prison for a bizarre burglary spree.

The judge’s kid-gloves approach had fatal consequences when drugged-up and drunken Zakiyyah Steward got into the multi-car wreck Wednesday that killed a young couple.

“This woman should have been locked up a long time ago, but thanks to the judge she was still out on the street,” said a law enforcement source.

Steward, 25, was indicted in March 2017 for breaking into her former place of business — Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen on Bedford Ave. — and stealing money from the safe four times, authorities said.

She made off with more than $3,000 in cash, authorities said.

The sticky-fingered bandit, unable to come up with the cash to post $10,000 bail, languished in jail for eight months.

She was facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors floated Steward an offer: plead guilty in exchange for two-to-six years behind bars, sources said

But Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew Sciarrino stepped in and instead sent her to a court-mandated alternative to incarceration program.

A Nissan Altima burst into flames — trapping inside Yisroel Levin, 21, and his fiancé, Elisheva Basya Kaplan, 20.

A Nissan Altima burst into flames — trapping inside Yisroel Levin, 21, and his fiancé, Elisheva Basya Kaplan, 20.

(INWOOD FIRE DEPARTMENT/FACEBOOK)

Steward failed to fulfill her end of the bargain, sources said.

She was kicked out of the Fortune Society-run program and twice skipped court appearances.

Sources said prosecutors requested a bench warrant but Sciarrino refused.

Instead, a March 5 hearing ended with the judge giving Steward a second chance to complete the program.

She walked out of the courthouse and hopped into her Hyundai Genesis a month later.

Steward was zooming along the Nassau Expressway near the Queens-Long-Island border about 1:45 a.m. when she wrecked her car in a fiery chain-reaction crash involving five vehicles.

A Nissan Altima burst into flames — trapping inside Yisroel Levin, 21, and his fiancé, Elisheva Basya Kaplan, 20.

The recently-betrothed pair, who planned to marry in three months, were burned alive, authorities said.

Yisroel Levin and Elisheva Basya Kaplan got engaged a week before the deadly crash.

Yisroel Levin and Elisheva Basya Kaplan got engaged a week before the deadly crash.

Steward was hit with four charges, including driving while intoxicated and driving while under the influence of booze and drugs.

When officers put her in cuffs, they found six joints in her pocket, authorities said.

“I smoked all day,” she told officers, according to the police report.

Steward was ordered held on $25,000 bond.

A second driver, Rahmel Watkins, was charged with DWI.

Watkin’s girlfriend, who is Steward’s sister, was his passenger, cops said.

Brooklyn prosecutors pushed for an emergency sentencing hearing on the burglary charges in light of the crash.

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Steward was still behind bars in Nassau County when a prosecutor informed Sciarrino Friday that the woman was charged in a multi-car collision.

Judge Matthew Sciarrino

Judge Matthew Sciarrino

(JESSE WARD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Assistant District Attorney Robert Zweibel noted the arrest violates her plea agreement.

Sciarrino asked if Steward caused the crash.

“The incident is still under investigation,” Zweibel replied.

“I’m in touch with the prosecutors at Nassau County District Attorney’s office and the defendant is possibly facing manslaughter, vehicular homicide and other charges.”

A representative from Steward’s court-mandated program told the judge that she had not complied with the terms — also a violation of her plea agreement.

Sciarrino issued a warrant informing Nassau County that the suspect should be sentenced in Brooklyn before the Long Island case moves forward.

The sentencing was postponed to April 13.

source: nydaily

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