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Posted on: July 25, 2023

Wantagh Motorist Indicted for Killing Pedestrian Outside Woodbury Diner

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Willem Specht was allegedly intoxicated when he reversed his car in parking lot and struck 61-year-old Joseph Devito

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that a Wantagh man has been indicted for allegedly driving drunk and killing a pedestrian in a diner parking lot in January 2023. 

Willem Specht, 62, was arraigned today before Judge Robert McDonald on charges of  Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (a B felony), Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree (a C felony), Manslaughter in the Second Degree (a C felony), Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree (a D felony), Assault in the Second Degree (a D violent felony), Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (an unclassified misdemeanor), and two counts of Driving While Intoxicated (an unclassified misdemeanor).  

The defendant pleaded not guilty, and bail was continued at $125,000 cash, $250,000 bond, and $1.25 million partially secured bond. He is due back in court on September 7, 2023. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 25 years in prison.

“Joseph Devito was saying goodbye to a lifelong friend outside a diner after having lunch together, when this defendant, who was allegedly drunk, rapidly reversed his vehicle into the 61-year-old man, and killed him,” said DA Donnelly. “The reckless actions allegedly committed by this defendant cost an innocent family-man his life. No family should have to endure this kind of loss and we continue to express our condolences to the Devito family as we aggressively prosecute this case.” 

DA Donnelly said that, according to the investigation, at approximately 2:30 p.m. on January 28, 2023, Joseph Devito was standing on the sidewalk in front of the On-Parade Diner in Woodbury. The 61-year-old man was talking to a friend he had known since high school, and they had just finished lunch at the diner. At that time, the defendant, William Specht, allegedly rapidly reversed his car from a parking spot in the diner and struck the victim. The defendant narrowly missed striking the second man as well. 

After allegedly hitting Devito, the defendant continued to drive his 2004 Infiniti G35 in reverse and drove over another sidewalk, struck a ramp and a metal fence leading into the diner, and eventually reversed into the exterior wall of the diner. Specht then allegedly drove forward and stopped his car in a parking spot in the direction where he originally came from, exited his car, and stood in the lot for a short period of time. The defendant then allegedly attempted to leave the scene but was stopped by a witness. 

Devito suffered catastrophic head injuries and died shortly afterwards at Syosset Hospital. 

Specht was arrested shortly thereafter by the Nassau County Police Department. 

The case is being prosecuted by Chief Michael Bushwack and Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Russell of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau. Specht is represented by Steve LaMagna, Esq.

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty. 


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