By Stephen J. Kotz
Suffolk County Justice Fernando Camacho on Thursday, March 2, ruled against motions filed by Sean P. Ludwick’s defense attorneys that sought to dismiss many of the charges filed against him in connection with the August 30, 2015, death of Paul Hansen of Noyac.
After a brief appearance that took no more than a minute, Justice Camacho adjourned the proceedings until March 22.
Prosecutors say Mr. Ludwick was intoxicated when he lost control of his convertible Porsche 911 and struck a telephone pole a few doors down from Mr. Hansen’s home on Rolling Hills Court East in Noyac. They say Mr. Hansen, 53, a passenger in the vehicle, was partially ejected and that Mr. Ludwick dragged him from the car and left him in the road before trying to flee.
Police caught up with Mr. Ludwick a few blocks away, on Woodvale Street, where his car, which was extensively damaged in the accident, had broken down.
Mr. Ludwick, 44, a Manhattan developer with a home in Bridgehampton, was indicted on 13 counts, including six felonies: three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident with an injury. He faces between 10 and 32 years in prison, if convicted.
On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Ray Varuolo said Justice Camacho had agreed to set pretrial hearings to determine what evidence can be suppressed during the trial. He said when Mr. Ludwick’s defense team, which is led by William Keahon of Hauppauge, and prosecutors meet with Justice Camacho on March 22, they will try to hammer out a schedule for those hearings.
Justice Camacho had sought to bring the case to trial by last fall, but those plans fell by the wayside for a number of reasons including Mr. Ludwick’s hiring of new attorneys and a heavy caseload for Justice Camacho, the DA, and Mr. Ludwick’s attorneys.
Family members, including Mr. Hansen’s widow, Catherine Hansen, his twin sister, Susan Morrissey, and older brother, Robert Hansen, were in the courthouse on Thursday.
Robert Hansen has served as the family’s spokesman, and he said while he was pleased none of the charges were dismissed, the family was disappointed that Mr. Ludwick has never apologized for his actions.
“The most disheartening thing is he continues to try to avoid any kind of responsibility,” he said.
“If he spends five years, 10 years or 20 years in jail, it really doesn’t buy us anything,” Mr. Hansen said. “Our primary effort is to make sure the family is provided for.”
Mr. Hansen said the family had learned that Mr. Ludwick “has no assets in his name,” which could make obtaining a financial settlement difficult. The family filed a civil suit, seeking unspecified damages several months after the accident. Besides his wife, Mr. Hansen is survived by two sons, Hunter, 15, and Austin, 13.
Mr. Ludwick, who was originally freed on $1 million bond, has been confined to Suffolk County jail in Yaphank since January 2016 after prosecutors said they uncovered a scheme in which he was allegedly going to try to flee the country by traveling to Puerto Rico, purchasing an ocean-going sailboat and sailing it to a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. After the judge ordered Mr. Ludwick held without bail, his high profile attorney, Benjamin Brafman of Manhattan, left the case.
In a four-page decision, Justice Camacho rejected most of the defense’s requests, although he agreed to hold four hearings to consider suppressing evidence ranging from Mr. Ludwick’s alleged refusal to submit to a chemical test to the statements he made to police after being taken into custody.
According to court papers, shortly after police found Mr. Ludwick standing by his broken down car, he said, “It was an accident. It was a mistake” and then asked to speak to his attorney and said he was “not doing any tests.”
When asked if there was a passenger in his car, Mr. Ludwick allegedly told police, “Don’t’ worry about him.”
When he was being taken to Southampton Town Police headquarters, Mr. Ludwick allegedly asked police what he was being charged with and inquired about Mr. Hansen’s condition, asking, “Is he in the hospital? Is he going to die? Do you think he is going to make it?”