A Nassau County judge Friday promised to put all his energy into deciding whether a young driver who pleaded guilty in a Farmingdale drag-race case that left five teenagers dead should go to jail for 6 months or face a harsher sentence after a new arrest.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy called his task “a delicate balancing” aimed at achieving justice in the case involving defendant Cory Gloe, 19, of Farmingdale.
He said he would announce his decision at Gloe’s May 20 sentencing.
But the judge added that no amount of time behind bars for Gloe could make up for the loss of “innocence riding in that car” that crashed on May 10, 2014. All of the deceased were Farmingdale High School students then or in the past.
“Understand that whatever that sentence is, I have put all of me into determining what is best and what is just and what is appropriate, knowing that nothing I can do can bring us back to May 9, 2014,” Murphy said in Nassau County Court.
Gloe pleaded guilty last week to a 17-count indictment that included five manslaughter charges linked to the deaths of Tristan Reichle, 17; Jesse Romero, 18; Carly Lonnborg, 14; Noah Francis, 15; and Cody Talanian, 17.
The judge originally told Gloe he would sentence him to 5 years of probation and 6 months in jail as a youthful offender, meaning Gloe’s criminal record would be sealed.
But Murphy had warned that the agreement would be revoked if Gloe ran afoul of the law before sentencing.
On Tuesday, Nassau police arrested Gloe on a felony weapon charge in a separate case, which Murphy said Friday meant he had no obligation to stick to his earlier pledge.
The judge said he would consider a report from probation officials, input from victims’ families, and supporters of Gloe, and attorney arguments before coming to a final decision.
Gloe won’t be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and now could face up to 22 years in prison.
The judge, who remanded Gloe into jail custody without bail, appeared to get emotional at times while explaining how he planned to come to a decision.
Murphy spoke of his experience as an Army officer who served in overseas war zones and as a father who saw his teenage son cope with losing friends in an unrelated car crash.
Prosecutors have said Gloe goaded Reichle into racing, but Gloe’s car never made contact with Reichle’s car or the SUV that Reichle’s car hit after veering into oncoming traffic. The SUV’s two occupants were also seriously injured.
Court papers also showed Reichle was legally impaired by alcohol at the time of the crash.
“I have heard you and what I hear is the inconsolable grief upon the shocking and tragic, unbearable loss of a loved one so young,” Murphy said, addressing victims’ families Friday.
Relatives of Lonnborg who were in court declined to comment after previously expressing outrage for what they called the judge’s “slap on the wrist” sentence commitment for Gloe.
The district attorney’s office has opposed youthful offender status for Gloe and has said the sentence is up to Murphy since Gloe pleaded guilty to every original charge and there was “not a negotiated plea.”
Police on Tuesday charged Gloe with felony knife possession after stopping a car he was a passenger in for an alleged speeding violation. He pleaded not guilty.
Police also arrested that vehicle’s 17-year-old driver on a marijuana possession charge and a weapon possession charge after finding the knife on the driver’s side floorboard.