Murder charge reinstated against Great Neck man in 2017 case

Murder charge reinstated against Great Neck man in 2017 case
Christian Arevalo, seen here in 2017, faces a number of charges, including second degree murder. (Photo courtesy of the Nassau County District Attorney's Office)

An appellate panel has unanimously reinstated a charge of second-degree murder against a Great Neck man charged in an August 2017 incident that left another Great Neck man dead on Wednesday, reversing a Nassau judge’s decision to dismiss the indictment in 2018.

A four-member panel of the New York State Supreme Court’s appellate division in Brooklyn said acting State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn erred in dismissing the indictment, saying it is “not one of those rare cases demanding dismissal.”

Christian Arevalo faced numerous charges in connection to the death of Corey Howell, including second-degree murder, second degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, first-degree reckless endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

The murder charge had been dismissed in April 2018 by Quinn, who said a prosecutor acted unethically in withholding evidence that would’ve benefited the defense.

In its decision, the panel wrote that the prosecutor was not obligated to present evidence the defendant believed to be favorable to them, “as such evidence was not entirely exculpatory and would not have materially influenced the grand jury’s investigation.”

The panel also wrote the prosecutor “properly presented expert testimony to the grand jury” on something “beyond the ken of the average jury” and that the defense was “not entitled to pre-indictment discovery” of certain material.

“The Appellate Division has first and foremost reinstated a murder charge against Christian Arevalo for the death of Corey Howell. A trial will now property determine whether the allegations against the defendant constitution murder,” Singas said. “It is regrettable that justice for Mr. Howell’s death was delayed by a trial court decision that the Appellate Division determined to be unfounded.”

“The serious and unjustified ethical allegations against this office have also been determined to be unfounded,” Singas added. “I take those allegations seriously.”

William Kephart, the attorney for Arevalo, could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday, but told Newsday he believes his client has been “overcharged” in the case.

He also told Newsday they plan to “explore legal avenues” in regards to the charges before going to trial to “fight the case on its merits.”

Prosecutors said that Christian Arevalo, who was 19 at the time, and Corey Howell, 20, were arguing before Arevalo allegedly drove a 2013 Altima toward Howell. Howell jumped onto the hood to avoid being struck, prosecutors said, but Arevalo kept driving with Howell clinging to the hood.

Brian Griffin and Daniel Russo, two attorneys who represented Arevalo at the time, said that Howell was the aggressor and Arevalo “was the victim of a violent and sustained attack by Mr. Howell and others.”

Arevalo then tried to escape but allegedly faced a continued attack from Howell, Griffin previously said, and Howell allegedly jumped on his car and tried to smash the car’s windows.

The vehicle travelled for more than a mile at speeds up to 60 miles per hour along side streets, along Northern Boulevard in Great Neck and through Manhasset, according to police.

Prosecutors said that Howell’s brother was trailing the vehicle on Cumberland Avenue when Arevalo allegedly slammed the brakes, leading to Howell’s brother crashing into the car.

This sent the Altima onto the Cumberland Adult Center property, before it hit a curb, which in turn launched Howell from the car’s hood, according to prosecutors. Howell suffered head, neck and spine injuries, police said, which ultimately proved fatal.

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