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Hempstead woman sentenced to 17 years in SUV killing

Shania Buchanan leaves Nassau police headquarters for her

Shania Buchanan leaves Nassau police headquarters for her arraignment in Mineola on June 9, 2016. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Hempstead woman was sentenced Wednesday to 17 years in prison for killing a bystander and injuring two others when she rammed her sport utility vehicle into the trio in 2016 as she raced to join a fight at her mother’s house, prosecutors said.

Shania Buchanan, 24, was found guilty on Feb. 28 by a Nassau jury of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Barbara Reid, 56, also of Hempstead, as well as assault and other crimes against the other spectators.

Buchanan was tried for murder, but the jury concluded that her conduct did not rise to murder and acquitted her of one count of second-degree murder.

Reid, Betty Sanders and Jose Mena were among dozens of people drawn to a Linden Avenue address in the Village of Hempstead on April 20, 2016, when the clash between Buchanan’s mother and another woman broke out in the driveway, according to Nassau prosecutors.

The three bystanders were watching the fight, prosecutors said, when Buchanan came speeding down the residential street in her 1999 Pathfinder, going 60 to 70 mph and drove into the crowd.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Francis Ricigliano in Mineola sentenced Buchanan to 5 to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, the maximum punishment the law allows. He sentenced Buchanan to 17 years for first-degree assault for injuring Sanders. These sentences and the sentences for the other crimes are to run concurrently.

Buchanan, who did not testify at her trial, maintains that the crash was an accident, said her attorney, Jeffrey Groder of Mineola.

“She tried to convey to the judge that she was sorry for what happened,” he said.

Buchanan stepped on her brakes, Groder said, but she didn’t do it in time.

Prosecutors had asked that the sentences for manslaughter and Sanders’ assault to run consecutively, but Groder said the judge noted that the collision was one criminal act and rejected the request.

On the day of crash, Buchanan got a call from her sister that their mother was losing the fight and Buchanan rushed over to defend her, prosecutors said. Buchanan’s Pathfinder hit Sanders, who was walking away from the fracas, said Nassau Deputy Bureau Chief Michael Bushwack.

Then, he said, Buchanan continued driving toward the group of 40 to 50 people, which included Reid and Mena.

Buchanan’s SUV struck Reid and dragged her down the road. Reid was left lying against a curb with a broken neck and an injury to her brain, prosecutors said. Then, the Pathfinder hit Mena, who was on his bicycle.

Mena sustained a fractured spine and Sanders a broken femur, which prosecutors said caused her to walk with a limp.

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