DWI Killer Sentenced to Six Months

By Greg Cergol
|  Thursday, Jun 17, 2010  |  Updated 9:24 PM EDT
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DWI Killer Sentenced to Six Months

The Suffolk Times

Caroline Goss

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DWI Killer Sentenced to Six Months

The mother of Joseph Marino, a 15-year old killed in a drunk driving crash, is calling the punishment appalling. A Mattituck woman will spend six months in jail for the crime as part of a controversial plea deal.
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As she sat on the front porch of her Hampton Bays home, Dorothy Marino couldn't hide the frustration.

Every day this week, she had protested outside Suffolk county criminal court, demanding a stiffer jail term for the drunk driver who killed her son last August.

"When you take the keys and get behind the wheel, you're putting a weapon on the road and you're a murderer," said Marino.

But those protests couldn't change the outcome of the case. With Marino looking on, a Suffolk judge sentenced 35-year-old driver Caroline Goss, of Mattituck, to only six months in jail and five years probation.

The sentence was part of a plea deal Goss cut with prosecutors.

"It says she got away with murder," said Joe Marino's older brother, Anthony.

"This case is a tragedy for all involved," said Goss' lawyer, Anthony Palumbo. "But we have to take the emotions out of it and apply the law to the facts and this is the result we felt was just."

Why the plea deal? Although Goss' blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit, prosecutors said she was neither driving erratically nor speeding.

In addition, according to witnesses, Marino had veered his bicycle into the road just prior to the crash.  All those factors would have made if difficult to convict Goss of the top charge of vehicular manslaughter, said prosecutors.

"To have to prove she was doing something else reckless beside driving drunk; that's appalling," said Dorothy Marino.

Appalling maybe, but the judge said it's the law.

Suffolk Judge Gary Weber even released a statement explaining the plea deal- an unusual move.

"The DA's office concluded it may not meet the....burden needed to have a reasonable chance of success in prosecuting the case," said Judge Weber.

"I agree with the analysis."

For her part, a sobbing Caroline Goss apologized in court.

"Words can't describe the feelings of overwhelming grief, pain and suffering," Goss said.

"Please forgive me."

After the sentencing, a Marino neighbor placed fresh flowers at the Hampton Bays intersection where Joe Marino was killed; but, Dorothy Marino wasn't in a forgiving mood.

She vowed instead to lobby lawmakers for tougher drunk driving penalties so her son's death wasn't in vain.

"The idea that drunk driving isn't a violent crime has to change," said Marino.

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