Rejecting the defense’s claims, Michelle Alexis told the woman who killed her 21-year-old daughter in a Rockville Centre drunken driving crash that she deserves all the blame.
“Make no mistake: You and you alone are responsible for Jennifer Kristen no longer being alive,” the mother said Wednesday in a Mineola courtroom.
“I may have to live the rest of this life without my daughter,” Alexis said. “You will live the rest of your life knowing you are the reason why.”
Minutes later, Asya Ulmer, 24, of Rockville Centre, buckled at the knees as Acting Supreme Court Justice Jerald S. Carter sentenced her to 1 1⁄3 to 4 years in prison
The defense had claimed at trial that Ulmer was only partly at fault for the September 2013 crash that killed her friend, Jennifer Kristen Alexis, 21, of Bayside, Queens.
Ulmer testified at trial that Alexis grabbed the steering wheel while she was driving her BMW, causing her to lose control and crash into a parked truck at 5:50 a.m. She told jurors that she had been drinking that night but wasn’t drunk at the time of the crash.
Her attorney, Fred K. Brewington of Hempstead, disputed the blood-alcohol test results, saying there were problems with the testing device, that authorities waited too long to test samples and that the evidence’s chain of custody wasn’t properly documented.
But in court Wednesday, Ulmer cried before she addressed the court, saying she was sorry for what happened.
“I take responsibility for the death of my friend,” she said.
She faced up to 15 years in prison after a jury convicted her in August 2015 of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.
Prosecutors, who recommended a sentence of 4 to 12 years, said Ulmer was driving on North Centre Avenue when she drove into a tractor-trailer illegally parked on the right shoulder. The collision sheered the roof off the car. Alexis was pronounced dead at the scene.
“She took Jennifer away from her parents, Robert and Michelle, away from her brother, away from all of her family and friends . . .,” Nassau Assistant District Attorney Christopher Casa told Carter.
District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement that Ulmer killed Alexis “by driving recklessly and drunk” with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.15 percent — nearly twice the legal limit.
There was no evidence at the scene that Ulmer made any attempt to avoid the collision, prosecutors said.
Michelle Alexis, 59, also of Bayside, said in court that her daughter, one of two children, worked three part-time jobs and attended Queensborough Community College.
Her daughter wanted to get a university degree in finance, marry and start a family, and one day own a business, the mother said.
Brewington told the judge his client was remorseful. “Her heart is broken,” he said.
The judge acknowledged that the ordeal was difficult for both families. The young women were enjoying a night out and presumed it “would end in nothing more than merriment and memories,” he said.
Carter said he didn’t “view Asya as a criminal,” but “at the same time, the mother and father of Jennifer are deprived of Christmas, deprived of birthdays, deprived of grandchildren.”
Addressing Ulmer, he said her actions warranted that “a period of your life be placed on hold.”
After her release, Ulmer will lose her license for six months upon release and have to drive with an interlock ignition device.
Michelle Alexis had written a letter to the judge, saying she sought a sentence “tempered with mercy” and “justice, not revenge.” After court Wednesday, she said she was pleased.
Of Ulmer, the mother said: “I didn’t want her to spend years and years in prison.”