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|Posted on February 6, 2016 at 3:13 PM||comments (636)|
|Posted on July 23, 2014 at 2:40 PM||comments (194)|
Video of Atty. Pat Bonanno as an expert legal commentator for Good Morning America
|Posted on May 21, 2014 at 4:44 PM||comments (171)|
Yonkers man gets prison in Mount Vernon DWI fatal
Rhonda Richardson says the first and only time she met the man who would kill her daughter in a drunken-driving crash, she asked him to take care of her baby.
"Kelly was not just my only daughter, my baby, but my best friend," Richardson said of Kelly Williams in a statement read in court Tuesday. She added: "Even the good memories ... hurt because I know there will be no more, and my heart and soul want more."
Richardson spoke at the sentencing of William Watkins-Gomes, who pleaded guilty in March to vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and several other charges. The Yonkers man, 27, was sentenced to 1 1/3 to four years in prison.
Before the plea, Watkins-Gomes had faced up to seven years stemming from the early morning Aug. 4 crash in Mount Vernon that resulted in the death of Williams, 31, a passenger in the car in which the couple were driving.
Williams, known by her nickname "Sunshine," had lived in Yonkers and worked as a supervisor for an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her family has expressed frustration with the length of Watkins-Gomes' sentence.
"I am ... appalled that there are other, less serious offenses in New York state that carry more time than the one which took the life of our beloved Kelly," her brother, Andre Richardson of Yonkers, said in his statement. "These laws and corresponding sentences need to be addressed and corrected."
He later added: "Countless nights of no sleep, fits of crying, rage and angst have filled my (family's) daily life over the last nine months. I will never get the chance to have a niece or nephew to dote on and help raise."
Watkins-Gomes was pinned during the accident on South Fifth Avenue and brought to Jacobi Medical Center, where he later was arrested, authorities said. His blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was found in his system.
Watkins-Gomes, who has been in jail since last summer, expressed sorrow in court for the tragedy, according to his attorney, and admitted making poor choices that resulted in Williams' death. Attorney Pat Bonanno said of his client."It is our prayer ... and certainly the prayer of the Gomes family that God is close to the Richardson-Williams family today."
Rhonda Richardson said Watkins-Gomes apologized without any feeling and her family still hasn't felt remorse from him. "If I could have one wish, I would not be standing in front of you, but a vibrant young woman with her whole life ahead of her would be here," she said in her statement.
Read the victim's impact statement from Rhonda Richardson, mother of Kelly Williams:
|Posted on April 2, 2014 at 12:27 PM||comments (196)|
YONKERS – Rhonda Richardson has spent the last eight months trying to manage the overwhelming sadness she's felt since losing her only daughter, the victim of a drunk-driving crash.
There are happy moments, such as texts from her granddaughter and daily visits from her son, who lives upstairs. But there's also confusion and frustration, most recently after the man responsible for Kelly Williams' death pleaded guilty last month to felony vehicular manslaughter.
Richardson didn't want a plea bargain for William Watkins-Gomes, who agreed to serve 1 / to 4 years after admitting he was intoxicated during the Aug. 4 crash in Mount Vernon that killed her daughter, a passenger in the car. He had faced up to seven years in prison.
"Even if he got six years in the state penitentiary, that would have been fine with me," Richardson, 63, said from the living room of her Sherwood Avenue home. "I'm not comfortable with what the sentence was. My daughter's not coming back. She was my best friend. She was also my baby."
Richardson's dissatisfaction with the justice system is something other victims' families have encountered before — a process they can't dictate. Her family wanted a trial for Watkins-Gomes, who they have described as a friend of Williams, but the reality is the vast majority of criminal cases in New York state don't make it that far. And it's up to the defendant to plead guilty or have a trial.
A deal for Watkins-Gomes, 28, was reached after negotiations between his attorney and the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, with a judge serving as the arbiter.
If the case had gone to trial, there was a chance the Yonkers man could have walked free or received probation. He could have also received a longer sentence. The plea agreement fell in the middle of those scenarios.
"There were extensive and numerous conversations face-to-face ... with the (Richardson) family," said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office. "They were fully apprised of what was happening, but also what various other outcomes could be."
Watkins-Gomes has been locked up since last summer, and will receive credit for time served, meaning he's approaching the minimum sentence, according to his attorney. That's upsetting to the Richardsons, especially since they say Watkins-Gomes hasn't shown remorse or apologized to them for killing 31-year-old Williams, who was a supervisor for an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
His attorney, Pat Bonanno, said his client was sorry for what happened to a woman he was romantically involved with. He added that mitigating factors, such as Williams not wearing a seat belt, would have surfaced if the case had gone to trial.
"It's a tragedy all around," Bonanno said. "He's truly remorseful that this resulted in a loss of life."
|Posted on March 26, 2014 at 2:30 PM||comments (155)|