A Suffolk judge Thursday sent a Southampton man to prison for 8 to 24 years for hitting and killing a Pennsylvania truck driver crossing a street in the town last year.
Joseph Lynn McAlla, 63, was left dismembered and dying in the middle of the night on County Route 39 after Chace Quinn, 20, plowed into him with his Jeep. Quinn admitted that he hit McAlla after a night of smoking marijuana and drinking when he pleaded guilty last month to aggravated vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, intimidating a witness and driving while intoxicated.
Death destroyed McAlla’s dreams of a hard-earned retirement, family members said.
Quinn, a Bloods street gang member with a criminal record, will be one of the few defendants unlikely ever to be rehabilitated, said state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho.
The judge, while imposing the sentence he promised at the time of the plea, said he was troubled by Quinn’s lack of remorse and empathy.
“This defendant is an extreme danger to the community,” Camacho said.
Quinn remained silent in court, but his attorney, Robert Schalk of Mineola, said his client had expressed remorse to him privately.
“You may not want to believe that,” Schalk said to McAlla's widow and daughter, who had just finished telling Camacho of their loss.
Before the sentencing, Schalk told Camacho that his client wanted to fire him, apparently because he was upset with the plea deal to which he had agreed. Schalk asked for a postponement so Quinn could hire a new lawyer, but Camacho said the victim’s family had come from Pennsylvania for this and there was no legal reason to delay the sentencing.
McAlla’s daughter, Donna Keslo, said she resented having to read the statement she wrote.
“I detest having to write this,” she read. “The idea that one could describe the full impact of this revolting crime is unreasonable. It colors each and every aspect of my life.”
She described her father as a good-hearted man, proud of running his own trucking company with his wife of 48 years, Jean, in Clifford, Pennsylvania.
“They worked and planned their whole lives for a pleasant retirement, a retirement meant to be spent together,” Keslo said, adding later: “Mr. Quinn, this is for you to think about. How would you write this letter if it was your father, or your mother?”
Jean McAlla noted Quinn’s criminal history and his ties to the Bloods street gang and said the justice system had failed, allowing him to kill her husband.
“We looked forward to spending the rest of our years together and had planned our life’s decisions around that,” she said in her statement. “He was a very special person, my friend, my husband, a working partner, a man with so much patience in everything he did, a father to our children and a great grandfather.”
Quinn was nothing like that, she said.
Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp said her office recommended a sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison. She said Quinn denied using drugs or drinking heavily, yet video from two bars and witnesses established he had smoked marijuana all night and drank Long Island iced teas, Corona beers and Hennessy cognac.
McAlla was found dead in the road about 2:30 a.m. by members of the Southampton Town Police Department. McAlla had just completed a delivery of stone to Southampton Masonry and was crossing the street when he was hit and killed. The impact of the crash ripped off McAlla’s left leg and scattered debris about 300 feet along the road, prosecutors said earlier.
CORRECTION: Attorney Robert Schalk addressed Joseph Lynn McAlla's widow and daughter during a sentencing Thursday. An earlier version of this story misidentified the victim's family members.