WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Yonkers man will serve two to six years behind bars after killing a driver by throwing a 10-pound chunk of asphalt through her windshield.
Alberto Plasencia, 28, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to manslaughter in June.
Marie McSweeney was fatally injured in April 2004 on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Yonkers.
She was was killed when the asphalt smashed through the windshield and hit her on the head. Her car careened across the parkway for about a third of a mile before crashing in the woods. Her 87-year-old mother was also in the car and survived the incident, but died two years later never knowing who might have killed her daughter.
The women had been heading to the Bronx to attend Mass.
Plasencia said at his sentencing hearing that he was using drugs the day he killed McSweeney and was not thinking about the traffic below, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“I made a terrible mistake that took Mrs. McSweeney away from her family,” he said. “Even though I was on drugs that day, I’m not going to use that as an excuse. The drugs did not push the rock; I did.
“I will continue to pray for forgiveness from God. I would like to apologize again to the McSweeney family for taking Mrs. McSweeney away from them. And I hope that one day they can forgive me.”
Plasencia was 17 years old when he tossed the asphalt from the overpass, and had he come forward right away, he probably would have been treated with leniency. Instead, he stayed in the shadows.
Police worked the case for nine years until a tipster gave them Plasencia’s name. Yonkers cold case Detective John Geiss led the dogged pursuit.
“I thought I was looking for a monster,” Geiss said. “I didn’t find a monster. He was young — 17 years old. He was doing drugs at the time. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to live with this for the rest of his life.”
McSweeney’s family said they can forgive the crime, but not the long wait for justice.
“He hid. And he was cowardly,” said Victoria Nikou, McSweeney’s cousin. “So for that, I still bear some degree of anger.”
The defense and prosecution agreed that Plasencia seems to have turned his life around.
Judge Barbara Zambelli asked prosecutor Christine O’Connor to remind the court why the original murder charge was reduced to manslaughter.
O’Connor said there were credibility issues with some of the witnesses and a statute-of-limitations problem with some of the charges had the case gone to trial. O’Connor pointed out that both the Yonkers Police Department and the McSweeney family had reviewed and approved the plea deal with the sentence of two to six years.
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