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Zakiyyah Steward sentencing for fatal Lawrence car crash postponed to July 11

Rahmel Watkins expected in Nassau County court on May 20


Zakiyyah Steward, one of the two people charged in the fatal April 4 car crash in Lawrence last year, was expected to be sentenced on May 9. The hearing was postponed to July 11.

Steward, along with Rahmel Watkins, both Brooklyn residents, are considered responsible for a five-car crash that killed an engaged couple on the Nassau Expressway.

On Feb. 27, Steward pleaded guilty to 17 charges ranging from manslaughter second degree, assault second-degree, reckless driving and endangerment, three vehicular traffic laws, vehicular manslaughter second-degree twice and one first-degree count, and aggravated vehicular homicide.

The total expected sentence is three to nine years. Judge Francis Ricigliano committed to the sentences being served concurrently, the Nassau County District Attorney’s office said. Steward remains in custody.

Nine people in total were involved in the crash that occurred between Bay Boulevard near Rockaway Turnpike and Burnside Avenue at 1:40 a.m. Five people were taken to area hospitals for treatment and two others refused treatment at the scene, police said.

Elisheva Kaplan and Yisroel Levin were killed. Kaplan, 20, a Far Rockaway resident, is the daughter of Joel Kaplan, the cantor for Congregation Beth Sholom, in Lawrence. She was in a car with her fiancé, Yisroel Levin, 21, from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. They had planned to be married in three months.

Watkins, according to prosecutors was driving a 2010 BMW 5501 GT, a car with 400 horsepower, “dangerously fast” and possibly racing at least one other vehicle before his car careered into the opposite lane and crashed into the 2017 Nissan Altima with Kaplan and Levin, the driver, inside. The Altima burst into flames and was thrown more than 200 feet back. The pair was trapped in the burning car, law enforcement officials said.

Authorities said that the BMW then hit an Infiniti, whose male driver suffered a broke spine. Watkins was said to be speeding adjacent to Steward in a 2016 Hyundai Genesis. Allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, her car also struck the Altima, prosecutors said.

Watkins is expected back in court on May 20. He was charged last year on manslaughter, assault and reckless driving charges. He also remains in custody.