RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Suffolk County man convicted of causing a crash that left a 5-year-old boy dead was sentenced Monday.
Steven Kinalis, of Ronkonkoma, was sentenced to five-and-a-half to 16-and-a-half years in prison for his DUI – aggravated vehicular homicide conviction. He had faced a maximum of 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Kinalis was driving under the influence of prescription medications when he rear-ended a pickup truck on Sunrise Highway in Shirley in December of 2011. The truck then struck a tree.
Kindergartner John Gaffney, who was in the truck with his parents, sister and brother on their way to buy the family Christmas tree, was killed.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, more than 60 residents of West Islip supported Teri and Kevin Gaffney as they appealed to a judge to throw the book at the drugged-out driver.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Kevin Gaffney said.
“Thank God for our family and friends because we wouldn’t have been able to make it through all this without them,” Teri Gaffney added.
The court house was filled with cries. Even the judge and officers wiped away tears as John’s sobbing mother, teacher and aunts delivered messages to the court, McLogan reported.
“It’s impossible for me to understand. I still hear his laugh,” Gaffney’s kindergarten teacher Janis Howard said outside of court. “He was a happy, smart, wonderful boy.”
Kinalis was convicted of DUI – aggravated vehicular homicide for the crash.
“Abuse of prescription drugs and doctor shopping is an epidemic in our society and the laws need to be changed,” Teri Gaffney said. “We miss our son greatly and we’d do anything to have him back.”
John’s aunts Karen Myers and Lori Cava spoke outside of court.
“They’re broken people, we all are,” an aunt said.
“We didn’t only lose John that day, we lost the entire Gaffney family that day. They’ll never be the same,” the other added.
The family did not accept Kinalis’ apology in court Monday, McLogan reported.
“He is a lousy liar. He is not remorseful for anything except that he got caught. And as far as I am concerned, they should throw away the key because I lost my grandson and he will never come back,” the little boy’s grandmother Catherine Murphy said.
Kinalis blamed doctors for over-prescribing pills, but admitted he was high on a drug-fueled cocktail combined with alcohol and cocaine when he got behind the wheel.
Court documents show Kinalis was driving more than 100 miles per hour while high on Oxycodone, Xanax and other drugs.
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