PITTSFIELD — A Lee man who struck and killed 32-year-old Patrick H. Kelly with his car in November 2016 will likely serve one month in jail.
Jared Gonzalez, 36, was convicted this week by a Berkshire County jury of a misdemeanor charge of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation in Kelly's death.
On Thursday, Central Berkshire District Court Judge Mark Pasquariello sentenced him to a six months, with one month to serve in jail. The remaining five months will be suspended while Gonzalez serves 18 months probation. He will also lose his license for 15 years.
"Pat had a wonderful life that he loved. He had nothing but compassion for others; every person was important to him," Kelly's mother, Donna, said in an impact statement Thursday. "His brother, his father, his grandparents, his uncles and aunts, his cousins, his friends, we continue walking along. But what we do is swallow overwhelming sadness each moment, each breath we take. Our hearts have been ripped apart."
On Nov. 30, 2016, Gonzalez was heading from the west on Housatonic Street in Lenox toward the Route 7 and 20 bypass around 3 p.m. when he struck Kelly, who was retrieving the mail from the family's mailbox directly across from his home.
Gonzalez, who was driving a 2002 Buick sedan registered to Taxico Inc., a cab company in Great Barrington, was distracted by several cell phones and documents in the car.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Royce told Pasquariello Thursday that it isn't uncommon to come across people talking on the phone and driving, but Gonzalez had three cellphones in his car and was looking at papers at the time he struck Kelly.
"This individual was doing everything but driving," Royce told Pasquariello. "He went beyond normal behavior."
Gonzalez kept his head down throughout most of the hearing Thursday, while his attorney, Harry Conklin, said that there is nothing about his client's behavior that exhibits "bad intent" and asked for a short committed sentence.
"I can tell you he is remorseful in this matter," Conklin said. "If he is allowed to be out he can continue to rebuild his life as much as he can."
Pasquariello, who was appointed to the bench just over a year ago, said that cases like Gonzalez's are some of the most difficult that a judge has to hear.
"The easy cases to preside over are the ones where someone had done something with intent," Pasquariello said, noting that Gonzalez has no criminal record, wasn't under the influence of alcohol or speeding at the time of the crime.
The greatest penalty for Gonzalez will be the 15-year license loss, Pasquariello said.
"Number 2, and perhaps the most important, he's going to have to live with the fact that he intentionally or unintentionally took a life," he said.
Gonzalez's sister wept aloud at the sentencing. His family and Kelly's nearly filled the courtroom.
After the hearing, Kelly's father Dennis said he felt that Gonzalez should see more committed jail time because he never showed remorse or apologized to the family.
"I go to the cemetery every day to speak to my son," Dennis Kelly said.
Donna Kelly explained that Patrick Kelly and his older brother Andy were born with disabilities.
"Andy, who is three years older than Pat, is left feeling that he could not protect his younger brother, feeling that his very best friend — people thought they were twins—is gone," she said. "There is a haunted look in him now, a profound sadness."
Kelly's family said that they are grateful for the support of the state police and district attorney's office has given them.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.