A woman was sentenced to six months in jail for a crash that took a man's leg, even as the victim publicly forgave her. Marybeth Frisoli, a 33-year-old former juvenile probation officer, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for the crash, with all but six months suspended. After she leaves jail, she will attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and serve three years of probation with random testing to ensure that she stays away from alcohol for the entire period. Victim Mark Cronin embraced Frisoli before she was led away to begin the sentence, saying "I know you're sorry. I really do." He asked the judge to be lenient with Frisoli, which may have influenced the judge's decision to give her six months in jail rather than the year prosecutors were seeking.
NECN had the story on video:
The crash happened early in the morning of Aug. 23. Frisoli had just left a bar and was driving the wrong way on a divided road approaching the Neponset Bridge in Quincy. She collided with Cronin, who was driving the correct way on a motorcycle. The accident severed Cronin's leg, and doctors later said he might have died if another motorcyclist hadn't stopped to help. That man, Iraq war veteran and Massachusetts National Guardsman John Melson, used Cronin's own belt as a tourniquet. Cronin can no longer do the same job and moved his family to a new house that's better suited to a wheelchair. But he told the newspaper that he couldn't live a bitter life, especially in front his three children, ages six through 12.
Read article: Crash victim forgives driver who cost him his leg
Frisoli's Massachusetts drunk driving criminal defense attorney said Cronin is "a special man." I believe he's right -- and that Cronin's intervention may have made a difference in Frisoli's defense. Operating under the influence with serious bodily injury can be a felony or a misdemeanor in Massachusetts. The article said Frisoli faced up to 10 years in prison, which suggests she was charged with the felony. The six months she will actually serve is the mandatory minimum sentence -- the best possible outcome after a conviction for felony OUI with serious bodily injury, and half of the time the prosecution asked for.
When an OUI with serious bodily injury is charged as a misdemeanor, it carries no mandatory minimum and up to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction. As a Massachusetts OUI criminal defense lawyer, I prefer to negotiate with prosecutors whenever possible to reduce a felony OUI with bodily injury charge to the misdemeanor version. This eliminates the mandatory minimum sentencing requirement, giving the judge discretion to sentence the client to no time at all, if appropriate. It also allows the client, if convicted, to avoid having a felony on his or her record, which preserves civil rights like voting and helps in job hunts. However, this isn't to say that a guilty plea is necessary or even typical with either type of OUI with serious bodily injury charge. When the facts are right, I can and will fight this charge in a court of law.