DWI teen has long record

May 27, 2009 6:30:23 PM PDT
Wednesday, Eyewitness News reported a teen who pleaded guilty in a 2007 drunken driving crash had been arrested again - this time on charges he helped friends steal beer.Our story attracted the attention of viewers who say they've also been the victims of Christopher John Palmeri's alleged bad behavior.

Prosecutors say Palmeri was 18, under the influence of alcohol, and going 72-miles per hour in a 35-mile per hour zone when he lost control on Wakefield Plantation Drive in January 2007.

The crash killed Sadiki Young, a Wakefield High School student. Young was 18.

After pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a Wake County judge sentenced Palmeri to five-months in jail and 300-hours community service which included speaking to children about DWI.

But that case wasn't Palmeri's first run in with the law by a long shot. A Wake County family tells Eyewitness News that Palmeri caused a crash involving them in May, 2006.

"It was quite traumatic," said wreck victim Keith Warshany.

Warshany, his future wife, and her two toddler children were driving on Six Forks road in north Raleigh when Palmeri pulled out in front of them. An ambulance rushed all his passengers to the hospital where they spent the night.

"It's pretty difficult to see a 4-year-old kid with a giant contusion on his forehead. And, obviously, they suffered a lot of trauma from the accident. You know, they were a little apprehensive about being in a car for quite some time after that," said Warshany.

Although it isn't reflected the wreck report, Warshany says the state trooper at the scene said he found pot in Palmeri's car. The court record shows Palmeri was indeed charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia on that date.

He was familiar with the charges, according to court records, because he was arrested for the same thing almost a year to the day earlier. Then, six months later, Palmeri was charged with speeding in a school zone. Three months after that - in February 2006 - he was charged with reckless driving to endanger.

That was just 14 weeks before the accident with Warshany's family and less than a year before Sadiki Young was killed.

"If there's one thing that you would think would be a wakeup call for somebody, you know, killing your friend would be one that would maybe change the way you viewed your life," offered Warshany.

In fact, when he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in August 2007, Palmeri told the judge and his victim's family he planned to change his life.

"If you decide to send me to prison, I'm accepting that. I believe that is a reasonable punishment," he said.

But after being released from five months in prison, court records show he flunked three drug tests. Apparently, testing positive for pot and cocaine last month was the last straw. He was charged with a probation violation and ordered back to jail for four days over two weekends.

Less than a month later, he was picked up at a north Raleigh Harris Teeter on the charges relating to the beer theft.

He's charged with misdemeanor larceny, second-degree trespassing and possession of alcohol while under age 21. Palmeri was released from jail Tuesday on a $1,000 bond.

"He's been given various chances to make good for his youthful indiscretions and obviously he's not willing to do that. His moral compass is somewhere else. And it's kind of disheartening 'cause he really has the capacity to hurt other people," said Warshany.


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