Local News

Friend: Man convicted in teen's 2007 death needs help, not jail

Posted February 21, 2013 12:26 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2013 5:49 p.m. EST

— A Raleigh man who was arrested last week and accused of violating his probation on a fatal drunken-driving charge won't get another chance if he violates his probation again, a judge warned him Thursday.

Christopher John Palmeri, of 1920 Holly Lane, was arrested on Valentine's Day after he tested positive for illegal drugs.

A friend spoke out on Palmeri's behalf Thursday, saying the 24-year-old is still struggling with his 2007 drunken-driving crash that killed his friend, Sadiki Ayize Young, 18, a Wakefield High School senior. He needs treatment for depression and drug addiction, not more jail time, his friend said.

"He's very sorry, and there's not much you can do to bring someone back. You best believe he has plenty of remorse over what he's done," said William Caldwell. "From the bottom of my heart, I would love to see him get help."

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 Young, 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.

The victim's mother says she doesn't blame Palmeri for her son's death. But in the years since the crash, Palmeri has had several run-ins with the law.

He tested positive on Feb. 13 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, according to court documents.

In 2009, he was arrested 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.

Palmeri has another hearing on March 21. His attorney, Alan Briones, says he hopes to work with the state to come up with a solution that will get Palmeri the help he needs and keep him out of jail for good.

"The weight that bears on him, I can't imagine," Briones said. "I think he needs treatment. I think he needs help."