A Suffolk judge sentenced a Nesconset man to 2 to 6 years in prison Wednesday for a fatal hit-and-run accident, after a rambling and combative court proceeding in which the judge threatened to throw the defense attorney out of the courtroom.
Craig Williams, 42, was convicted in October of hitting and killing Thomas Wik Jr., 23, as Wik walked home from a bar on Nesconset Highway in the early hours of Sept. 29, 2012. In lengthy remarks often interrupted by Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow, defense attorney William Keahon argued that his client didn’t know he’d hit a person, that the jury was instructed poorly on the law and that his client was a good man who deserved nothing more than probation.
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Repeatedly, when Keahon reviewed trial testimony, Braslow told him, “We’re not retrying the case right now.”
Keahon suggested the judge was trying to silence him and picked up where he left off. At one point, Keahon said, “Judge, for the record, you’re rolling your eyes.”
Keahon reminded Braslow that two jurors signed affidavits afterward regretting the verdict.
“A jury verdict is sacrosanct,” Braslow replied. “I don’t care what they say afterward. I don’t know what you told jurors afterward.”
Keahon told Braslow that his decision to not set aside the verdict showed the judge believed his client was drinking before the crash, even though there was no evidence of that.
“You don’t know what I believe!” Braslow yelled.
“Yes I do,” Keahon said.
“You’re making this a circus,” Braslow said. “Stop it. Come on, let’s go. Mr. Keahon, sum it up.”
“What’s the rush?” Keahon said. “Why can’t I just put things on the record that I feel are appropriate?”
Earlier, before all the yelling, Wik’s mother, Joanne Wik, told Braslow that her son did the right thing by walking home after drinking at a bar, while Williams did the wrong thing when he left after he must have known he’d hit a person.
“When Thomas was killed, a piece of me died with him,” she said. “Thomas touched so many lives.”
Williams, she said, “was more concerned with his own well being, so he continued driving home.”
Special prosecutor Stephen Scaring — appointed because Williams’ father-in-law works for the Suffolk district attorney’s office — said Wik was 185 pounds and his head likely hit the windshield when he went up on the hood.
“You can almost touch him,” from the driver’s seat, Scaring said, stretching out his hand, “and you leave him there. Maybe he’s dead. Maybe he’s not dead. Maybe he could survive. Maybe he could be hit by another car.”
Before he imposed the sentence, Braslow wondered about what Williams may have been doing in the two hours from when he left his part-time job in Huntington to the time of crash in Nesconset. He said “we’ll never know” if Williams had been drinking because he left the scene and didn’t report the accident immediately and because Suffolk police declined to seek a warrant for Williams’ blood.
“I’m not going to suggest why they did not test him [for alcohol or drugs], but I’ve signed a lot of blood warrants in my time,” Braslow said.
He also said Williams never expressed remorse.
“You haven’t let him speak,” Keahon said, noting the judge had started to impose the sentence without first letting the defendant speak.
Braslow then let him speak.
“I truly am sorry,” Williams said. “I’m very sorry.”