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Jun 23, 2010 9:00 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mattituck woman gets 6-month sentence for DWI accident that killed Hampton Bays boy

Jun 23, 2010 9:00 AM

RIVERSIDE—In a stirring court appearance last week, Caroline Goss was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation for killing 15-year-old Joseph Marino of Hampton Bays in a drunk driving accident 10 months ago, an incident Ms. Goss called a “terrible mistake.”

Ms. Goss’s sentence was expected after her attorney struck a plea deal with prosecutors earlier this year. On April 20, Ms. Goss pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, a felony, DWI and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, and driving with an open container of alcohol in her vehicle, a violation.

The sentence was made official in a decision handed down by Judge Gary J. Weber in Suffolk County Criminal Court at about 10:40 a.m. last Thursday, June 17. About 25 friends and supporters of the Marino family came to witness the sentencing, including victim advocates for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In the minutes leading up to the sentencing, Marino family members and a neighbor, who have been calling for a harsher sentence since the plea deal was struck weeks ago, read tearful stories and made last-minute appeals to Judge Weber for more jail time.

Dorothy Marino, Joseph’s mother, stood before the court and broke into tears as she recounted her son’s life, and the hole left in his family’s lives after his death. At one point, Ms. Marino held up two photos of her son laying in a bed at Stony Brook University Medical Center after the accident, bruised and brain dead, his shoulder-length brown hair shaved from the front of his head where a tube entered his skull. The Marinos took Joseph off life support the day after the accident, on August 13, 2009.

“We prayed, we screamed, we cried, but there was no hope for our son’s return,” said Ms. Marino, who spent the previous three days protesting the sentence outside of the courthouse.

Meanwhile, Ms. Goss stood audibly sobbing in a white-and-black dress, next to her attorney, Anthony Palumbo of Mattituck. Throughout the statement, she kneaded a folded piece of paper between her hands, which were cuffed behind her back.

After the victim statements, Ms. Goss turned to face the family from the defense stand and read a tearful apology. When she began once, in a hushed voice, Ms. Marino said, “We can’t hear you.” Ms. Goss began again. She called the accident a “terrible mistake” and asked for forgiveness.

“I would give anything to bring him back,” she said. “I wish I could take his place. As a mother, I know this is your worst nightmare.” She said that she will speak out publicly against drunk driving after she completes her jail sentence.

Ms. Goss, 35, of Mattituck, was driving drunk on the night of August 12, 2009, when she struck Joseph, who was riding his bicycle on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays, according to authorities. Joseph was transported by helicopter to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was declared brain dead and died the next day.

Police said Ms. Goss had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13 percent at the time of the accident, which is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. She also had her 6-year-old son in the front seat of her 2001 Jeep Cherokee, police said.

Before Judge Weber handed down the sentence, Assistant District Attorney Carl Borelli said that prosecutors signed on to the plea deal in order to ensure a felony vehicular manslaughter conviction. He said that such a conviction would have been unlikely if the case went to trial, because eyewitness accounts and accident reconstruction show that Joseph swerved into Ponquogue Avenue on his bicycle immediately before Ms. Goss struck him, near the corner of Argonne Road East.

Mr. Borelli told Judge Weber that the fact that Ms. Goss was legally drunk was not enough for a jury to convict her of vehicular manslaughter. She would have had to have been driving erratically—a fact that investigators could not prove based on the evidence, he said.

“We have to show beyond a reasonable doubt to all 12 jurors that the defendant killed the victim as a result of being intoxicated,” he said. He said that, even after taking into account the reaction times of a sober driver and a drunk driver, prosecutors could not prove that Ms. Goss’s intoxication caused the accident.

But the explanation was of little consolation to Joseph’s family and friends. Outside the courthouse, the Marino family focused on the fact that Ms. Goss had a prior DWI arrest. In 2003, she was arrested after a traffic stop in Riverhead and was charged with DWI, according to court records. She later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, driving while her ability was impaired by alcohol, and paid a $435 fine.

Ms. Marino told the court that Joseph’s death came during an upswing in his life. Naturally slight of frame, Joseph was working out regularly with the goal of trying out for the football team, she said, and his self-esteem was on the rise. He was winning a hard-fought battle against attention deficit disorder and skirting the honor roll at Hampton Bays High School. As his sophomore year came to a close last spring, Ms. Marino said, he told his mother he would finally make it next year—but he died shortly before his junior year began.

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The prosecutors are a disgrace. They should have done their job, this is an outrage. Wether or not he swerved or not isn't an issue here, she was DRUNK period. They got their Felony conviction that's what really matter to them. The 6 months is such a ridiculous sentence. Good job failures, you just stuck a knife in that poor woman's back!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 17, 10 1:36 PM
2 members liked this comment
Just sickening. Failure is just not strong enough.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Jun 17, 10 1:48 PM
An absolute joke-drunk driving, open beer container, a 6 year old riding in the front seat and she gets sent to the farm in Yapank. Oh I forgot-she also killed someone.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 17, 10 2:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Even if Joseph did swerve into her, do you think maybe a sober person might have a better reaction time to avoid hitting someone. There have been plenty of times when children and adults have darted out in front of me, thank goodness I was sober and avoided hitting them, do you think if I was drunk the outcome may have been different?
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Jun 17, 10 2:52 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By alr234, Selden on Jun 27, 10 3:47 PM
What a miscarriage of justice !!!
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jun 17, 10 4:17 PM
I am sick over this this lady is a waste of life its not like she just hit a kid on a bike who may have gotten in front of her, its that she did it drunk with her poor child whos sure to grow up effected now in the front seat another broken law by the way.. Min security are you kidding well I guess you wouldnt want the killer to actually suffer a little during that whole 6 months... Nice justice systm we have here..
By SESMOMOF2 (21), SOUTHAMPTON on Jun 17, 10 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
What a disgrace! I feel for Joseph's parents. To think this irresponsible drunk, a mother herself, took the life of a young boy. What is the justice system coming to. I hope she meets her match in jail~~ I feel NO pity for any pain she feels. She deserves it.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Jun 17, 10 5:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Anonymous... I totally agree with you!! I hope Those other inmates give her exactly what she deserves! PLUS she was driving with her own child in the car!! Was CPS ever contacted???
By honeylamb (71), East Quogue on Jun 17, 10 10:31 PM
This is outrageous...I pass by that road every day. That section of Ponquogue is right in front of the school. There are ALWAYS children there, either riding their bikes or walking to and from school...not to mention other pedestrians. The speed limit is 20 mph. By permitting this woman to walk away with 6 months in a "jail", it's sending the message that driving while drunk is ok. How protected are our children? I also feel for the young boy's parents...I hope they find peace in their faith and ...more
By fi25 (2), southampton on Jun 17, 10 6:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
She must be politically connected. I don't buy the prosecutor's argument. If she were not drunk, she could have swerved or braked to avoid hitting the boy! This was a slam dunk case and the prosecutor should be fired!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 7:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
Does anyone else see the irony in the ad at the top of the page for DWI defense attorney?
By HB90 (164), southampton on Jun 17, 10 7:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ms. Marino, I'm truly sorry for the outcome of this case, but I hope you find some peace in all the support there has been for you. I can't begin to imagine what you have gone through. Stay strong.
By freelance (21), Westhampton Beach on Jun 17, 10 7:22 PM
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Marino:

I am so sorry for your devastating loss. Like you, I am outraged that the sentence for Ms. Goss is so insignificant considering her history and that she was driving with a child and an open alcohol container in the front seat of her car. So many laws broken and she received a slap on the wrist. MADD works so hard to change the laws and this is what we get. Even if Joseph veered in front of her car, the road is wide enough and had she been sober, her reaction may ...more
By concerned east ender (49), Sag Harbor on Jun 17, 10 8:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
No justice was served here. This sentance is testament that the "justice" system doesn't work. Shame on the prosecuter and the judge in this case. They did NOT do their job.
By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jun 17, 10 9:05 PM
Please excuse the spelling errors above.

By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jun 17, 10 9:06 PM
I really do not know what to say.

Six months?

This is not even a slap on the wrist.

The court system failed miserably in this instance. I want to know what went wrong here.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Jun 17, 10 11:04 PM
I cant agree more with the most of the comments listed above. She was driving while intoxicated, had prior convictions, had A CHILD IN HER FRONT SEAT, and an open container in her car. She was basically partying with her 6 year old son in the car. This alone should warrant a far greater sentence and avisit from the child protection services. As far as a full felony conviction for manslaughter that is a different case. I have 2 children and my deepest condolences to the family but LEGALLY they had ...more
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jun 18, 10 9:22 AM
The boy (Joseph) was acting like a kid, and the drunk was acting like a drunk! She should not have been behind the wheel. That's all there is to it! She killed a boy, that is the ramification he got for acting like a kid. She, on the other hand, got 6 months for being an irresponsible mother, an irresponsible driver, and a drunk.

No doubt in my mind whatsoever that his death was the result of her drinking and irresponsible behavior. The justice system should have thrown the book at ...more
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Jun 19, 10 7:32 AM
Unbelievable! 6 months is what the court thinks is sufficient sacrifice for taking a young boys life? Think if that was yourselves. Life in jail is more like it.
By beach23 (3), Hamptons on Jun 17, 10 11:37 PM
6 months is only 4 months on good behavior...
By SirHampton (60), quogue on Jun 18, 10 1:22 AM
Crazy justice system. This is a slap in the face to the family.
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jun 18, 10 7:50 AM
And how soon before she is out driving drunk again?
Perhaps there should be a warning light on top of her car.
By Montaukette (46), Waterland on Jun 18, 10 9:04 PM
the system didn't fail , it is corrupted......she 's well connected..."bargain & bought "
the plea ...it 's a deal ...it's the way justice work...it is america ...justice is like the health in america ...there is one for rich & one for poor...laws? rules? all depend?
look like the power of money can buy it all and make people aphatic & blind ...
can buy intigrity, responsability, consciousness, awarness....and more
it is absolutly DISGUSTING ..what about his her child would have ...more
By dlb (21), sag harbor on Jun 19, 10 10:57 AM
is there any proof of her being politcally connected?
By SirHampton (60), quogue on Jun 19, 10 1:24 PM
FYI She was not well connected and didn't buy anyone. She worked as a receptionist for a medical office
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jun 19, 10 8:07 PM
How do you know? You just never know for sure...
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Jun 19, 10 8:30 PM
By EEC (3), hb on Jun 30, 10 11:57 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By EEC (3), hb on Jun 30, 10 11:58 AM
I hope everyone who is so outraged has called their State Senators and Assemblymen about toughening the DWI laws.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Jun 20, 10 10:54 AM
I feel SO SO bad for the family of the boy that was killed. How can you get only 6 months for killing an innocent boy because Goss was not being responsible with her actions at all. And then to put her child in jeopardy is disgusting. It's just insane and the sentence is way off!
By hrdygrljr (10), Hampton Bays on Jun 23, 10 6:30 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By alr234, Selden on Jun 27, 10 3:52 PM
Par for the course?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 29, 10 10:12 AM