Legal analyst doesn't think Endymion crash driver will serve man - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Legal analyst doesn't think Endymion crash driver will serve many years in jail

Neilson Rizzuto (Source: OPSO) Neilson Rizzuto (Source: OPSO)

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, wants Neilson Rizzuto punished to the fullest extent of the law after the 25-year-old drove his pick-up truck through an Endymion parade crowd.

Facing charges ranging from first-degree negligent injury to reckless driving, Rizzuto currently sits behind bars. But FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti said don't expect to see a trial anytime soon. He predicts Rizzuto will look for a plea deal.

“[There's] nothing really to say [he's] not guilty of these acts. He's looking for mercy at this stage of the game,” Raspanti said.

More than two dozen people sustained injuries after Rizzuto plowed through a crowd at Carrollton and Orleans. A police report shows his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

“Right after we'd gotten run over, we were just lying there, bodies on top of each other, no idea what had happened,” said victim Mark Vache.

Each of the first-degree negligent injury charges Rizzuto faces carries a sentence of zero to five years. But Raspanti points out that if he's found guilty, the sentences can run concurrently, as opposed to consecutively. He also thinks the judge will look at the 25-year-old's background.

“The kid has no prior record. There was no mens rea, per say, his intent as not to hurt all these people, so it’s going to be a tough sentencing thing,” Raspanti explained.

MADD believe Rizzuto's background shouldn't matter, nor should the number of victims.

“Whether it’s one or 28, we always want the alleged offender to be held to the fullest extent," said MADD spokesman Asheba Brown. "It does not matter how many victims there were.”

Two victims have already reached out to MADD for assistance since the accident. The organization said it will provide advocates to appear with victims at Rizzuto's court appearances.

Neilson Rizzuto will appear in court again next month for a status hearing. He's in jail on a $545,000 bond.

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