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Jun 16, 2010 12:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mother of drunk driving victim protests sentence

Jun 16, 2010 12:01 PM

RIVERSIDE—Dorothy Marino, the mother of Hampton Bays teenager Joseph Marino, who was killed by convicted drunk driver Caroline Goss in August 2009, spent three days this week on the doorstep of the Suffolk County Criminal Court building, protesting a plea deal that ensures a 6-month jail sentence for Ms. Goss.

On April 20, Ms. Goss pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, a felony, as well as DWI and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, and driving with an open container of alcohol, a violation. Prosecutors said she was drunk when she struck 15-year-old Joseph, who was riding his bicycle on Ponquogue Avenue, on August 12, 2009. Joseph died the next day.

Ms. Goss, who was 34 at the time of the accident and lives in Mattituck, is scheduled to be sentenced in Suffolk County Court today, Thursday, June 17, at 9:30 a.m. Prosecutors said Ms. Goss faces six months in prison and five years probation after she accepted a plea deal.

Ms. Marino said the sentence is an injustice. She stood in front of the Arthur M. Cromarty Court Complex, wearing a red T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Justice for Joe,” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, and said planned to do the same thing on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Surrounded by a revolving door of supporters and passersby on Tuesday, Ms. Marino said she was disappointed in the plea deal, noting that the sentence shows that would-be drunk drivers can get off easy, even if they take a life.

“This is an example for a whole, whole generation of drivers,” she said.

Prosecutors said they struck the plea deal with Ms. Goss in order to ensure a felony vehicular manslaughter conviction. They might not have been able to ensure a felony conviction if the case went to trial, because witness statements and accident reconstruction show that Joseph may have swerved into Ponquogue Avenue on his bicycle immediately before he was struck by Ms. Goss’s vehicle, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for district attorney Thomas Spota.

But Ms. Marino said that Ms. Goss should never have been behind the wheel in the first place. Ms. Marino said prosecutors have met with her and tried to explain the situation, but she wasn’t satisfied.

“What my son may or may not have done is moot,” she said. “She was drunk, drunk, drunk.”

Ms. Goss, who worked as a critical care nurse at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson at the time, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13 percent on the night of the accident, which is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, police said. She also had her 6-year-old son in the front seat of her 2001 Jeep Cherokee, police said.

On Tuesday, Ms. Marino was joined by a handful of friends and a few strangers who were at the courthouse for other business but stopped to hear her story.

“Definitely, there should be more than six months for this person, absolutely,” said June Douglas of Coram, who said she originally came to the courthouse to support a friend but stood outside with Ms. Marino for part of the morning.

“I don’t think this is justice right here,” said Peter Dulfon of Westhampton, who said he was at the court for other business and also stopped to speak with Ms. Marino. “She shouldn’t have been behind the wheel,” he said of Ms. Goss.

Rebecca Layman, 16, a friend of Joseph who is finishing up her junior year at Hampton Bays High School, showed up with her mother, Deborah, after tests on Tuesday.

“It’s ridiculous,” Rebecca said of the sentence. “I don’t know why anyone would really just drive drunk in the first place, but to just have no repercussions at all—that’s probably why they do it.”

Deborah said she was concerned about the message the sentence will send to Joseph’s peers, who are themselves just learning how to drive.

“They’re getting behind the wheel for the first time, and we need to set a better example for these kids,” she said.

Ms. Marino said she will protest outside the courthouse briefly before the sentencing on Thursday, and then go inside to read a victim impact statement on behalf of herself and her husband, Phil. Her older son, Anthony, 19, will also read a statement, she said.

The Marinos have said that the intend to file a civil lawsuit against Ms. Goss that seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the wrongful death of their son.

Earlier this month, a memorial garden outside Hampton Bays High School, along Wakeman Road, was dedicated in Joseph’s memory.

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I hope a lot of people go to support this family. The 6 month sentence is slap in the face to them, the DA & Judge should be ashamed of themselves!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 13, 10 7:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Note the language -- "proposed sentence" -- which means that while DA Spota may have signed off on the six months, the Judge hasn't.

In other words, it's not a done deal. This is an important distinction.

I grew up under the impression that if one is intoxicated or impair behind the wheel, there ARE no "mitigating circumstances" as a defense. This was reinforced by two vehicular manslaughter cases back in the 1990s, one in Glen Cove and another in East Quogue, where the actions ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1813), Northampton on Jun 13, 10 9:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
There is no evidence proving that he swerved onto Ponquogue Avenue. It is all speculation.
By Diane S. (4), Massapequa on Jun 13, 10 9:12 AM
I cant believe the world we live in today an innocent boy riding his bike gets hit by a drunk driver and the murderer gets six months. Six months isnt even a dent in the pain and loss the family are going throught now and forever. I could never imagine the pain of having a child taken like that,
By ICARE (23), SOUTHAMPTON on Jun 13, 10 11:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
This is so unfair. A young life has ended because of a choice that this women took when she got behind the wheel after drinking. Not only did she hit and kill a son, friend and loved one, but she also put her own child in danger, because he was also in the car. I feel for her because she has to live with this for the rest of her life. But what are ... See Morewe teaching our kids and Joeys friends and classmates. We tell them there are consequences to their actions. To never get behind the wheel ...more
By Sheryl (1), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 10 12:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
Without knowing all the facts in the case it is difficult to pass judgement as to whether the sentence is harsh enough or not, I do know that many times kids on bikes don't obey the law and act like they own the road, daring you to run over them sometimes ! ( or so it would seem ) Sometimes, timing is everything as anyone who has been in an accident can tell you. Maybe this woman having alcohol in her system had little to do with the result in this case? The DA seems to think so ...
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Jun 13, 10 12:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
The facts are Ms. Goss made a choice to get bwould you feel the samehow ehind a wheel of a car drunkwith her own child in the car that is a fact ,joe was ainnocent boy on his bike.And she killed him by the choice of being intoxicated. so alcoholhad everything to do with it. If this was your child I bet you wouldnot feel this way . Have a Heart you a-hole.
By drw612 (2), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 10 5:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
If it were your family member on a bike you'd like to think the driver could react as quickly as possible - much more likely to happen if she were sober. How dare you condone a drunk driver!
By sf (5), Southampton on Jun 13, 10 6:13 PM
Bill in Riverhead..... suppose it was your son that got killed. Would 6 months suit you????

Kids are kids, and we as responsible adults look after kids. She was intoxicated. And it was not her first offense. She deserves a stiff harsh sentence.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Jun 14, 10 2:47 PM
Bill, kids on bikes don't obey the law? Yes, many adults don't heed the traffic laws as they apply to bicycles as well. Should they die for this because someone else is committing a felony? You say timing is everything, well maybe her reflexes were slightly impaired because of her drinking or maybe it was just because she was on the phone. Either way she should be getting a much longer sentence.

"Maybe this woman having alcohol in her system had little to do with the result in this case?"

The ...more
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 14, 10 11:19 PM
shut up bill, cmon.....
By SirHampton (60), quogue on Jun 13, 10 12:53 PM
This is outragous. To Ms.Goss. If this were your son and you were not able to ever kiss your him goodnight or ever him tell you that he loves you, would six months be acceptable to to you?
By drw612 (2), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 10 5:08 PM
Driving while intoxicated with a minor passenger aged 15 or under is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison Too bad this law wasn't in affect until a few weeks after this tragedy. Although she should be facing up to 15 years for the charge of vehicular manslaughter THAT SHE HAS PLEAD GUILTY TO! What a disgusting display of corrupt judges/attorney's.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jun 14, 10 1:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
totally agree
By dadof2 (15), hampton bays on Jun 14, 10 7:36 AM
I did not know they changed the law. I am totally in favor of the new law. Not only was she driving with a monor intoxicated but she had him in the front seat. That crime alone should be more than 6 months. I do believe that your comment about corrupt judges and attorneys however is unfounded. I undertand the frustration of people on this board but based on the orginal article several witness tesified that the biker was driving recklessly and swerved into the vehichle. The prosecuter probably felt ...more
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 14, 10 11:51 AM
razza5350.....pure speculation on the biker. Also given my some teenagers that had NO idea what happened. These kids were in shock and didn't think that maybe they could say that they really didn't see what actually happened. And as a driver....which I don't think you are...you use your horn...your brakes...or steer around them. And when you're drunk...your defensive driving skills are lowered.
By Diane S. (4), Massapequa on Jun 14, 10 3:30 PM
Diane I am not arguing your opinion I am simply stating that based on eyewitness accounts it seemed a difficult case to prove in court. I do feel that based on her prior record and crimes commited that she got off way to easy. I have two young children and would be beside myself if anything happened to them. I feel for the grieving family.
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 14, 10 4:27 PM
Saying the kid swerved and it is his fault, is the equivalent of saying a women who was raped is at fault because of what she was wearing.
This is simple, she was drunk and shouldn't have been on the road period.
The fact that she is a repeat offender just means she should be getting a stiffer sentence. What facts does anyone need other than she was driving drunk with an open container and her 6 year old child in the car as well. It's not like she was at a party and made a bad choice ...more
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 14, 10 11:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Multiple witness claim the bicyclst swerved INTO the car. I wasn't there and have no idea what really happened but that sort of testimony is damning to the case. The comparison to rape is plain ridiculous
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 14, 10 11:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
FYI I agree with everything else that you are saying. Multiple offender, light sentence, endangering a minor. All should warrant a stiffer sentence
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 14, 10 11:33 PM
I think the rape comparison makes sense. You can't blame a victim when someone else was doing something at fault. He "may have swerved". A rape victim "may have led someone on". These are factors that can be said by people, but people have their own intentions and manipulate things.

The truth isn't always present. Especially if the testimonies are from people who were in shock. I mean, if I were the two teenagers, I don't think I would have been paying attention to where someone was standing ...more
By skeezador (5), HB on Jun 15, 10 9:54 AM
Since this verdict was handed down my alcoholic friends have really enjoyed getting out and driving again! They yell"hey even if we kill someone" we can get off. Bottoms up" as they start the car giggling and high fiving each other.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jun 15, 10 9:16 AM
Sounds like a classy bunch of friends you got there~~
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Jun 15, 10 9:34 AM
This is exactly why the sentance needs to be harsher. That attitude is completely unacceptable. The protest is a good idea because it's getting the attention and hopefully the judge will realize that this isn't okay. Regardless of the circumstance (that cannot actually be proved despite what they say), this sentence isn't okay...it's just going to make things worse, not better. It's going to change people's attitudes to what you're saying, and it won't change who she is either. It's lose-lose-lose. ...more
By skeezador (5), HB on Jun 15, 10 9:48 AM
lmao, I really enjoyed this. I know it was meant totally as a joke, but it does prove a point as to what REAL jacka**es will be thinking.
By dadof2 (15), hampton bays on Jun 15, 10 5:57 PM
I don't think there anything on this board to laugh your a-- off about. I don't think it was meant to entertain. If you are humored by it, get a life!
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Jun 16, 10 4:47 PM
Um, it was meant to prove a point. See above.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jun 15, 10 10:12 AM
Skeeze acordding to alwayslocal's post above they have changed the law to 4 years if you are caught driving while intoxicated while with a child under 15. This harsher sentence seems to make more sense.
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 15, 10 10:17 AM
Sure, they changed the law to involve children in the car - Leandra's Law. I'm familiar. I met Lenny Rosado, the father who helped bring it into fruition. It's definitely a great and necessary change. But not all drunk drivers have children. It would help in this particular case if it had been in effect before the incident. But it wasn't. Still, the state has recognized it's a growing issue by passing Leandra's Law. But then something like this happens and you wonder what's going on behind close ...more
By skeezador (5), HB on Jun 16, 10 9:36 AM
Drunk mommy has 1997 cocaine rap and 2003 dwi and now kills a young man and gets 6 months! Lawyers had a golf date.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jun 15, 10 12:23 PM
Do you have children?! Here's the facts!!!!
1. She was drinking
2. open container in the car
3. her own CHILD was in the car with her
4. She HIT and KILLED a teenage boy who was STANDING (according to his friends) at the corner talking with his friends!!!!
5. She has prior CHARGES of DRINKING while DRIVING!!
6 Months is NOT enough!!
Don't comment unless you know the facts, and don't you dare blame a child! An innocent CHILD for something a DRUNK DRIVING ADULT did!!! ...more
By mt1 (2), Southampton on Jun 15, 10 4:16 PM
3 members liked this comment
You shouldn't comment unless you know the law. All of your points are correct except #4. again for the 100th time I agree her sentence was too light but you can't label her a killer. Several wintness testified that the biker swerved INTO HER car. This testimony would have risked a conviction thus the lighter plea bargain sentence. That is the law like it or not
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 15, 10 7:53 PM
where did you get "biker swerved INTO HER car"? NOBODY has said HE swerved into HER car. And just so you know, the damage on her car was to the pass side headlight and the damage to his bike was in the rear only. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you start quoting law!
By EEC (3), hb on Jun 16, 10 7:55 PM
So YOU know the law better than the people who worked on this case. I guarantee you if the courts had enough evidence to prove that her drinking was a direct result of the bikers death she would be doing considerable time. She is a person who has serious problems, committed serious crimes but the evidence fir manslaughter was just not their
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Jun 17, 10 8:36 AM
The fact of the matter is, she was drunk. This alone impaired her ability to do the right thing. She originally stated that she "saw him swerving in and out of the road", then she "never saw him", then "he swerved directly in front of him". She was reaching for her cell phone, then not. The kids said "I think he may have swerved into the road". Too many stories changing and not enough investigation into the facts. The justice system dropped the ball on this one and wanted the easy felony conviction. ...more
By EEC (3), hb on Jun 18, 10 8:38 AM
isn't the point here that had she not been drunk, even if the child did swerve into the car, she would've had the reaction to brake? i don't understand how a woman can be intoxicated behind the wheel and the law is mincing words over whether or not the child was riding his bike safely. also, i wrote this elsewhere as well- most people drive 20-30mph on that road...had she been driving that speed she should've been able to brake in time to prevent killing him.

With the increasing number ...more
By fi25 (2), southampton on Jun 20, 10 11:34 PM
I drive these roads DAILY and see people on bikes DAILY and NIGHTLY and yes some kids are more daring the others, but NEVER EVER have I almost HIT one!! Never mind actually done it!!! This woman has no soul!! I would LOVE to know how she would feel if someone hit HER SON!! And KILLED HIM!! Oh right, she probably wouldn't care cause she endangers his life already!! Six months , she will be out in four!! and back on the road drinking and driving in five!!!
By mt1 (2), Southampton on Jun 15, 10 4:22 PM
Actually she is not a killer.. she is a murderer. She chose to drink, she chose to drive, she chose to disobey the law, she chose to disregard the life and safety of others, including her own child. She should never have been on the road to begin with... so it doesnt matter what the victim was doing, where he was, etc... There should be no discussion of the victims behavior, if we were a truely moral and just society.
By grimag (38), southampton on Jun 16, 10 10:52 AM
4 members liked this comment
today a boy on his bike hit a car the driver put him in his car drove him to a health care facility all are fine thats what ms goss was incapable of doing and shes a health care providor for a hospital her punishment is unfair she was not able to help joey her own child nor herself at least 10 years for death by drinking at the very least the marinos are a wonderful family this pain never goes away god bless all involved
By earl of olay (13), hampton bays on Jun 16, 10 5:11 PM
Whether he swerved into the road or not she was drink driving and should not have been driving in the first place; secondly, had she not been drinking her response time would have been quicker! It is hugely unfair and unjust to blame a 15 year old who was on bike for a death caused by a woman who had no concern for anyone, not even the safety of her own child.
By LINYCGirl (7), New York on Jun 17, 10 8:58 AM
Shame on you Judge Weber for upholding this absurd plea bargin. This should have been overturned. Some example you are setting for not only parents that drink and drive with their children in the car NOW, but our children who are watching this unfold and saying, Okay, well there is no consequence for taking someone's life so this is okay for me when I grow up too. I believe she was not only drunk, but answering her cell phone as well when she hit Joey. Joey was a sweet kid, I've known his family ...more
By LilOnes21 (23), hampton bays on Jun 17, 10 3:06 PM
Judge Weber was probably asleep on the bench again.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jun 19, 10 3:38 PM
This woman is getting a little slap for what she did. Let her live with herself and let her be in a searing hell for the rest of her pathetic life! When the F---K are people going to stop drunk driving!!! Anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking is beyond selfish, uneducated and a mere SIMPLETON!!! Why are they all living and the innocent all dying? These drunks have to get the book thrown at them. What a wonderful example this woman is.. yes honey, when you were a little boy Mommy got in ...more
By et6678 (12), southampton on Jun 22, 10 9:01 AM
joe was a great kid and this women took his life by getting behind the weel of a car under the influence, not only did she hit and kill someone but an inosent kid someones son someones brother someones freind, hampton bays is a small town were everyone knows each other we as a comunity need to stand up with his mother and tell the courts this was wrong, i know i stand up with you Dorothy your son's memorey deserves better then this and Joe you are missed
By mgia631 (5), hampton bays on Jun 25, 10 10:16 AM
I do not know how this judge can sleep at night.A 15 year old lost his life.This low life should be in jail for a long time
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jun 25, 10 3:29 PM
WHO GOT PAID OFF???
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jun 25, 10 3:32 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser