Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh man convicted in a fatal drunken-driving case more than five years ago was arrested Thursday for allegedly violating terms of his probation after he tested positive for illegal drugs.
Christopher John Palmeri, 24, of 1920 Holly Lane, was charged with one count of felony probation violation after, according to court documents, he tested positive on Wednesday for marijuana and opiates and admitted to his probation officer that he had used marijuana and heroin and had previously taken Vicodin without a prescription.
Palmeri, who was jailed under a $200,000 bond, is serving five years' probation as part of his sentence in the January 2007 death of Sadiki Ayize Young, 18, a Wakefield High School senior who died when the car Palmeri was driving went off an embankment in north Raleigh.
Investigators said Palmeri had been drinking and was traveling 72 mph in a 35 mph speed zone at the time of the wreck. Young was one of two passengers in the car.
In August 2007, Palmeri, 18 at the time, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving and was sentenced to 16 to 20 months in prison with all but five months suspended.
In 2009, he was arrested again after he allegedly stole three cases of beer from a Raleigh grocery store, but, according to court records, the charges were dismissed by the Wake County District Attorney's Office. It's unclear why.
In 2012, he spent another five months in prison for a probation violation in March 2010.
Young's mother, Rosemarie Newman, said Thursday that tears formed in her eyes when she heard about Palmeri's latest troubles.
"I feel so sorry for him," she said. "I have no idea what role the burden of taking someone's life has had on him."
Newman said she doesn't blame Palmeri for the wreck and that her son would not have blamed him either.
"Sadiki never blamed anyone for anything but himself," she said. "Yes, Chris was driving that night, but Sadiki made the choice to get in the car."