A Mastic woman who’s been addicted to drugs and alcohol since she was 6 apologized Friday in a Central Islip courtroom for crushing a woman to death at a gas station while driving on a mixture of alcohol, cocaine and fentanyl.
Renee McKinney, 53, made her apology shortly before she was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison.
She pleaded guilty in August to second-degree manslaughter, admitting then that her actions resulted in the death of Rosalie Koenig, 62, also of Mastic, who was pumping gas when McKinney’s Nissan Altima crushed her in Shirley. The impact knocked a pump off its footing and pushed it into Koenig.
“I can’t take away the pain I’ve caused,” McKinney said to state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. “The hoodie I’m wearing today is what I was wearing the day of the accident. I wear it in remembrance of what I’ve done.”
She said she would keep it with her in prison while she fights to gain sobriety and control over herself for the first time in her life.
Camacho said he was moved by a 10-page letter McKinney had sent him, in which she outlined a life dominated by addiction, sexual abuse and physical abuse since she was a little girl.
“There are two real tragedies here,” Camacho said. “The first is your life so far.”
He said society “needs to do better” taking care of people who suffer from addiction and abuse. The second tragedy, he said, was the death of Koenig.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t take responsibility for what you’ve done,” Camacho told McKinney, “but we have to do better.”
Koenig’s family declined to come to court.
Assistant District Attorney Raymond Varuolo said McKinney has had a criminal history since 1983. Records indicate it includes thefts, prostitution and drug crimes.
“She was out of jail less than 24 hours and on cocaine, alcohol and what she thought was heroin” when the crash happened, Varuolo said. Instead of heroin, she had taken the far stronger opioid fentanyl, and had overdosed at the time of the crash.
Afterward, Varuolo agreed with Camacho.
“It’s an epidemic that we need to address,” he said.
McKinney’s attorney, Pierre Bazile of Huntington, said she is “incredibly remorseful” and feels terrible about the pain she’s caused the Koenig family.
“She wanted the judge to know she’s not a monster.” Bazile said. “She hasn’t had an easy life.”