A North Babylon man who made a U-turn to intentionally hit a teenager with his car -- causing permanent brain damage -- and then left and tried to cover up his involvement was sentenced Friday to 2 to 3 years in prison.
The sentence imposed by Suffolk County Court Judge John Iliou disappointed both prosecutors and the family of Ryan McCarthy, now 18.
Kristofer Busching, 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, leaving the scene of an accident with an injury, tampering with physical evidence and other charges stemming from the Dec. 31, 2012, incident in West Islip.
"The maximum sentence is not always appropriate," Iliou told the victim's parents, Michelle and Robert McCarthy. "I have children Ryan's age. I can't imagine what you are going through. I don't think you'll be satisfied with any sentence."
Afterward, Michelle McCarthy said the sentence "was on the lenient side," but added that they had to trust that the legal system was handling the case appropriately.
More important, she and her husband said, is that the law is changed so people who commit hit-and-run crimes face stiffer punishment.
She said her son will never be the same, and he knows it.
"He mourns the old person he was," she said in court. "He was a vibrant teenager who had to surrender all his dignity . . . My son will never get back what Mr. Busching took from him."
The brain injuries have left him with difficulty focusing and sleeping, the family said, and they have ruined his future. The family also said it has been saddled with $500,000 in medical bills.
Assistant District Attorney Alfred Croce said Busching, who hit McCarthy after believing he yelled at him as he drove by, tried to stage a crash in the woods with the help of friends to cover up what he had done. Those friends -- Alicia Santamaria, 24, and Carlo Caamano, 20 -- have pleaded guilty and cooperated against Busching, Croce said. "It's a very callous and cold way in which he operates," Croce said.
Busching initially declined to speak in court, but after prompting by Iliou, he said the assault "will stay with me until I die."
His attorney, George Duncan of Central Islip, said his client is genuinely remorseful and didn't want to risk inadvertently offending the McCarthy family by saying something inappropriate in court.
Michelle McCarthy said Busching's failure to speak said plenty.
"I really think an apology would have been appropriate, but it says what kind of person he is," she said.