Caroline Goss, the Mattituck woman who fatally struck a 15-year-old bicyclist while driving drunk in Hampton Bays last summer, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation Thursday.
The sentence, part of a plea bargain proposed by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, was handed down by Justice Gary Weber at the Suffolk County courthouse in Riverside.
Ms. Goss was traveling north on Ponquogue Avenue, with her 6-year-old son in the passenger seat, when she hit Joseph Marino of Hampton Bays August 12, 2009. Joseph died from his injuries the following the day. Ms. Goss and her son were not injured in the crash.
Joseph’s mother Dorothy and others have protested outside the courthouse since Monday, claiming the sentence is too light.
Despite those claims, prosecutors say it would be nearly impossible to obtain a felony conviction if the case had gone to trial. They say there is not enough evidence to prove Ms. Goss was at fault for Joseph’s death because she was not speeding and witnesses said he swerved in the street just before he was hit.
“The law as it currently stands regarding vehicular manslaughter, is not as simple as only having to prove that the defendant drove drunk and someone was killed,” assistant DA Carl Borelli said in a statement. “Given the facts of this case, a jury could find there is a real probability that this collision would have been unavoidable for even a sober driver.”
Justice Weber agreed with the DA’s stance.
“The plea agreement offers the certainty of result and the greatest opportunity available to this court to protect the public,” he stated in a judicial memorandum.
Ms. Goss pleaded guilty April 20 to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, misdemeanor DWI, endangering the welfare of a child and having an open alcohol container in a vehicle.