Raymond Kalenka, 46, was sentenced Oct. 17 after being found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and tampering with physical evidence. His conviction followed a two-week bench trial in August.
Prosecutors said Kalenka had been driving on Broad Street in Williston Park just before 4 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2012, when he hit 41-year-old Dean LaLima. According to authorities, LaLima had been lying in the roadway while returning from his job as the manager of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Garden City. The Albertson resident suffered a fractured skull, collarbone and pelvis, as well as crushing injuries to his hands and legs and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials said LaLima – who lived just 500 feet from the crash site – fled the scene and removed pieces of his car that had been knocked loose from the impact. Investigators never found a removed fender, but homicide detectives located physical evidence and interviewed witnesses, which resulted in his arrest two days later.
“He chose to discard evidence, he chose to stay quiet,” Assistant District Attorney Katie Zizza said in court Thursday.
Several of LaLima’s family members, including his parents, were in court Thursday morning to watch Kalenka be sentenced. “He showed zero, absolutely no remorse for what he did...He left him there bleeding in the street to die,” said John LaLima, the victim’s father. “Had he had the morals and just to call for help, maybe my son would still be alive.”
“This defendant had every opportunity to remain at the scene and contact the police, but he chose to leave a dying man in the street and hide the evidence of what he had done,” Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Kalenka’s lawyer, Brian Davis, pointed to the fact LaLima’s blood-alcohol-content was above the legal limit to drive when he died. “There’s a giant gorilla that is being ignored in the courtroom. It’s the .26 reading. Alcohol and inability to deal with alcohol played a very big part in this.”
Before being sentenced to prison time, Kalenka called the early morning crash “a horrible and unfortunate accident.” He said he prays every day for LaLima’s family. “I wish I could take that day back.”
“I saw the pain on Mr. LaLima’s father’s face throughout the trial,” Judge Jerald Carter said before delivering sentence. “There’s noting I can do to resurrect your son, as much as I would like to.”
Kalenka was immediately placed in handcuffs and escorted from the courtroom by officers. His family members declined to comment as they left the courthouse.