NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teenager who pleaded guilty to striking and killing a 4-year-old girl nearly three years ago on the Upper West Side was sentenced Friday.
The judge sentenced Franklin Reyes Jr. to 3 to 9 years in prison and because of time served, Reyes will be eligible to go up before the parole board in August of next year, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
In June 2013, the then-17-year-old Reyes was driving without a license and fleeing from police when his SUV jumped a curb on Amsterdam Avenue at 97th Street and struck little Ariel Russo as she was walking to school with her grandmother, who survived.
Russo’s mother read a three-page victim impact statement during the sentencing.
“I am very angry at you. I pray to God to help me forgive you someday,” Sofia Russo said. “If there’s someone that you would give your life for then you know what I had.”
She told the courtroom she knew her young daughter Ariel was going to make a difference in this world, but never got the chance.
Ariel’s grandmother also spoke out in court, saying she is now disabled and wishes she had been the one who died instead of her granddaughter.
“I ask myself why?” she said. “I confront my daily challenges wishing I was the one dead and not my granddaughter Ariel.”
And though he’s entered the courtroom more than a dozen times, Reyes on Friday did something he’s never done before, finally apologizing to Russo’s family, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“I have hurt the Russo family in a way that the pain will never be healed or forgotten,” Reyes said at his sentencing. “I’m deeply sorry for the pain and suffering I have caused, I will carry this tragic accident for the rest of my life knowing I took the life of an innocent child. I truly in my heart apologize.”
Later, outside the courtroom, Sofia Russo called Reyes’ apology “just words,” WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
Reyes pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors last March, after what some described as a wild 24 hours of court appearances.
He initially rejected the deal, leaving many in the courtroom stunned at the time, but the judge told him to reconsider. In the end, it took a total of three appearances in court over that 24 hours for him to agree and admit guilt.
The deal also included Reyes pleading guilty to two other incidents, including one in which he dragged an officer with his car for about 100 feet during a traffic stop.
Reyes and his father were also charged in July 2014 with looting an apartment where the father worked as the superintendent. Police alleged the father-son duo swiped $2,000 worth of jewelry, cash and electronics from a tenant who had died of brain cancer.
That case will go to trial.
Reyes claims he’s been subjected to abuse while at Rikers. His lawyers asked that he do his time in a special prison unit for high-profile defendants.