Emotions high at sentencing for 2017 head-on fatality in Windsor
PITTSFIELD — Shaylee Martin survived the head-on crash that killed her fiance, Daron "D.R." Reynolds, in 2017, but life never has been the same for her or their young daughter.
In a packed courtroom Wednesday, Martin described the ongoing pain they have endured since Anthony Serrano plowed into their car while he was high on marijuana.
"So many things have been taken away," she said through tears. "Some days, I can't walk."
Martin gave her statement in Berkshire Superior Court, during the plea hearing and sentencing of Serrano, 25, of Springfield, who admitted to charges in the fatal crash. He was sentenced by Judge Michael Callan to up to six years in state prison.
Martin said that no matter what the court decided, Serrano eventually would be released from prison and move on.
"This man will be able to have a life again," she said.
Reynolds, a local music producer and host of a popular hip-hop and R&B radio show, was a passenger in the car Martin was driving when the crash occurred shortly after 1:45 p.m. April 24, 2017.
They were heading west on Route 9 in Windsor when their Toyota sedan was struck by an eastbound Acura driven by Serrano, according to police reports.
Moments earlier, a state trooper had clocked Serrano's car traveling at 91 mph in the 55 mph zone near Notchview; the trooper gave chase, but he could not catch up with the speeding vehicle before it crashed into Martin's car 3.8 miles away.
Reynolds was killed, and Martin was severely injured. The couple's daughter, who is now 4, also was injured.
Serrano's attorney, Joshua Hochberg, said there was no question that Serrano's decision to drive that day was criminal, but he said there was no intent to take a life or cause anyone harm.
Hochberg said Serrano was remorseful for his actions, and that no day goes by without him thinking about the family.
He said Serrano suffered a brain injury and has no memory of the day of the crash, but would admit that the state had enough evidence to prove him guilty if the case went to trial.
Prosecutors said Serrano also was hospitalized for his injuries, and testing showed that he had a THC level of 24 nanograms per milliliter and, had the case gone to trial, a toxicology expert would testify that level of THC would be enough to impair one's ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Hochberg said he felt there were viable defenses in his client's case, but that it was Serrano who decided to plead guilty to take responsibility, and to spare Reynolds' family and friends having to endure a trial.
He pleaded guilty to one count each of vehicular homicide while operating under the influence of drugs and operating negligently and operating under the influence and causing serious bodily injury,
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Kyle Christensen recommended a five- to six-year state prison sentence with a 15-year loss of license once he is released.
Hochberg asked Callan to consider three to six years, which, Hochberg noted, would maintain the same upper end of the sentence recommended by the state but allow for a longer period of parole, during which Serrano would be supervised.
Reynolds' mother, Connie Reynolds, called the sentencing recommendation from the defense a "slap in the face."
She noted that the couple's daughter had to endure watching her father die inches from her in the car.
"She could see everything," she said.
Reynolds' aunt, Geneva Ledbettermaguire, also addressed the court and talked about how his absence would be felt at all future family events.
Callan thanked those who gave statements and said people trusted that the court was a place where they could come to get justice and that, in this case, justice would be best served by adopting the state's recommendation.
The maximum penalty on the homicide charge is 15 years in state prison, and there is a 10-year maximum state prison sentence attached to the OUI with serious injury charge.
Serrano will serve his sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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