“My actions alone –– combined with the fact that I don’t have the ability to make this right — makes this anguish a thousand times worse,” Mr. Spellman said. “As I stand here today, after all this, please know this –– I would have never left your mom to die alone in the street. Never.”
The Bronx District Attorney’s case against Mr. Spellman lasted three years and the jury deliberated for eight days.
Mr. Spellman was acquitted of the two highest charges, aggravated vehicular manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter in the first degree.
Judge Barrett said he consulted five fellow judges before making “the most difficult” sentencing call of his career.
Deacon Donald Quiqley, who knows the Spellman family from St. John’s Parish in Kingsbridge, wrote a letter to the judge urging him to weigh Mr. Spellman’s public service as a law enforcement officer.
Pastor Brian McCarthy, now at St. Margaret of Cortona Parish, was among those who contributed to collection of letters characterizing Mr. Spellman as the son of pious, hard-working Irish immigrants.
Both church leaders said they had been impressed with the detective who once served as an altar boy.
Ultimately, Judge Barrett said, the prevalence of deaths caused by drunk drivers led him to believe that all such offenders must serve prison time.
But, he said, the maximum sentence of five to 15 years was too harsh for a man who lived “an exemplary life” as a dedicated law enforcement officer and as a churchgoing father consumed with remorse.
“Mr. Spellman may also regard this sentence as a penance that will ultimately set you free,” Judge Barrett said.
Defense attorney Peter Brill said Mr. Spellman would likely serve three to six years, and will leave behind a fiancé, who suffers from a chronic health condition, and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter.