Cop won’t cop a plea, as trial continues

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The trial a grieving family had been anticipating for years almost drew to an abrupt close last week. 

But former Det. Kevin Spellman — whose government-issued Chevy Malibu sedan struck and killed 66-year-old Drane Nikac in Kingsbridge on Oct. 30, 2009 — turned down a plea deal that the Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson offered at the behest of the Nikac family. 

According to a source with knowledge of the trial, Mr. Johnson offered Mr. Spellman approximately three to eight years as the trial got underway and had offered Mr. Spellman a four- to 12-year deal before it began. Family members said they had hoped to avoid more grisly details, like the ones that opened the trial. 

During opening statements on Oct. 17, prosecutors laid out how Ms. Nikac was killed while crossing Kingsbridge Avenue by then Det. Kevin Spellman. They described him as an inebriated former detective who blew a red light and sent her flying into the air to her death, hitting her so hard that pieces of her hair were embedded in his windshield.

“She didn’t have a chance against that car and she didn’t have a chance against the drunk driver that was operating it,” said Robert Caliendo of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. 

Mr. Spellman, a Riverdale resident, is facing a maximum of 25 years and charges that include aggravated vehicular homicide for recklessly driving drunk and causing the death of the Kingsbridge grandmother. 

As the trial began, he seemed nervous and distraught and frequently turned to look in the direction of the weeping family as the prosecution entered items into evidence that painted a vivid picture of the scene of Ms. Nikac’s death. 

They included the badly bent-out-of-shape blue shopping cart she had been using to collect cans and bottles the morning she died, along with a plastic bag full of recyclables and a mop she carried.

Mr. Spellman — who worked with the NYPD Regional Fugitive Task Force and used desks around the city — had signed out of the 50th Precinct at midnight on the night of the crash. 

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