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Judge delays sentencing in drunken driving case

Erin Marino, the woman whose DWI conviction was

Erin Marino, the woman whose DWI conviction was overturned because of problems at the police crime lab but then reinstated on appeal, leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after victim impact statements in Mineola. (Jan. 9, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Two victims of a drunken driving crash in which a Hicksville woman slammed into their minivan -- injuring them both -- urged a Nassau judge Wednesday to sentence her to a long jail term but he postponed his decision instead.

Judge George Peck delayed the sentencing of Erin Marino, 32, until Tuesday.

Marino was convicted of driving drunk after a June 25, 2009, crash on Route 106 in Glen Cove where she slammed into a minivan. The occupants -- Edita Bonilla and her husband, Nicolas, of Hempstead -- were injured.

Marino's case gained notoriety in 2011 when Peck tossed the conviction following the disclosure of a history of repeated errors in evidence-handling at Nassau's former crime lab.

An appellate court later overturned Peck's ruling, saying that Marino failed to meet her burden of establishing that new evidence cast doubt on the accuracy of the results of her blood alcohol testing such that the result would probably be different at a retrial.

After hearing Marino describe how she had mended her ways -- including 11 months at an inpatient facility for alcohol abuse -- Peck asked the Bonillas whether they had changed their minds.

Nicolas Bonilla, who said his back still hurts, was not swayed.

"There should be justice," Bonilla said.

Edita Bonilla, who fractured her spine and pelvis in the crash, wept as a packed courtroom waited for her to speak.

Finally, Bonilla said, "Well, I say give her five years because this could happen to some other people the same way."

The Bonillas had the assistance of a Spanish interpreter.

A weeping Marino told the Bonillas, "I'm so, so deeply sorry."

Peck said Marino had many supporters at the Connetquot school where she teaches sixth grade. Bonillas' supporters included members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Peck's decision surprised Maureen McCormick, chief of the district attorney's vehicular crimes bureau.

"I've never seen anything like it," McCormick said.

Defense attorney Brian Griffin said such delays are common.

McCormick has recommended a 2- to 6-year jail sentence for Marino's aggravated vehicular assault conviction. Griffin wants probation.

The maximum sentence is 5 to 15 years, Griffin said.


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