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Roosevelt man sentenced in crash death of girlfriend

Horace Cummings, 34, is at Nassau County Court

Horace Cummings, 34, is at Nassau County Court in Mineola on Friday, May 5, 2017, where he was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in the 2015 car-crash death of his girlfriend. He had pleaded guilty. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A birthday gift of a new car for a 25-year-old Lakeview woman tragically turned into “the instrumentality of her dying,” a judge said Friday as he sentenced the victim’s boyfriend to prison for killing her when he crashed the 2015 Nissan Altima while drunk and high.

“Her grandmother gave her this car and meant it to be a happy thing,” state Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald told Horace Cummings, 34, of Roosevelt, in Nassau County Court before sending him to prison for 4 to 12 years.

Diamond Hawkins-Williams died early on Nov. 21, 2015 — her 25th birthday — after authorities said Cummings crossed the centerline on Front Street in Hempstead and collided head-on with a sport utility vehicle.

Nassau Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma said Cummings also pulled the victim’s lifeless body out of the car and tried to make it look like she had been the driver.

The judge said he knew Cummings had accepted responsibility, but pointed out “collateral damage” all around, including brokenhearted relatives of the victim who will raise her 4-year-old son without her.

“For the sake of Diamond’s little boy, you’re going to have to pull everything together and with your love, raise this child,” McDonald told the grieving family.

The judge then sentenced Cummings, who pleaded guilty in February to second-degree manslaughter, driving while impaired by alcohol and marijuana and reckless endangerment.

The victim’s mother, Sandra Hawkins-Williams, 55, tearfully described in court how her grandson asks for his mother every day, adding: “I have tried my best to explain to him that God has taken her and that she is his beautiful guardian angel,” she said.

The victim was a single mother who worked as a motel clerk and seasonally as a Nassau parks employee.

Defense attorney Michael Siff of Queens said his client was too distraught to speak in court, but gave the judge a letter from Cummings and said the man was remorseful. Cummings didn’t comment as court officers led him out in handcuffs.

The victim’s mother said she recently got a letter of apology from Cummings that asked her to visit him in jail. She didn’t, but at Friday’s sentencing, told Cummings she would pray for his soul.

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