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Zakiyyah Steward sentencing in Lawrence car fatal postponed until Sept. 24


Zakiyyah Steward, one of the two people charged in the fatal April 4 car crash in Lawrence last year, had her sentencing hearing postponed again, this time to Sept. 24, from July 11. It was originally May 9. 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 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 were involved in the crash that occurred between Bay Boulevard near Rockaway Turnpike and Burnside Avenue at 1:40 a.m.

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, prosecutors said 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.

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 in custody, is expected back in court on Aug. 20. His charges include manslaughter.