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North Babylon man sentenced again to 30 years to life for woman's slaying

A North Babylon man was again sentenced to 30 years to life in prison Friday for killing a woman by firing a gun at the car she was in and causing it to lose control almost 14 years ago.

Eric Williams, 37, was convicted in February of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and other charges related to the May 15, 2001, attack that resulted in the death of Candice Arena, 19, of Deer Park.

Williams had been convicted of the same charges in 2005, but a federal judge threw out that conviction in 2013 because of improperly prejudicial testimony.

Arena's mother, Barbara Ann Arena, said she was relieved this case ended with the same result, even though she had to go through it all over again.

"I hope this is the last I have to see of his family and his face," she said.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro in Riverhead sentenced Williams to the maximum of 25 years to life in prison for second-degree murder and added another 5 years for criminal possession of a weapon.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome," said Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson, who prosecuted both trials. "I hope it brings this family some measure of peace."

Arena said the death of her daughter remains devastating. "Since then I have been on medications and I have a lot of health issues due to this tragedy," she said. "I just try to do my best."

Defense attorney Craig McElwee said his client expressed remorse for what happened but still believes a murder conviction isn't appropriate.

"He has matured, to where he does understand the extreme level of hurt he caused," McElwee said. "He does not view himself as a murderer." McElwee said there will be an appeal.

Witnesses testified that Williams, a drug and gun dealer, was angry with Melissa Weiner, then 18, because she owed him $260 for cocaine she used instead of selling for him. When he found out that she was at a 7-Eleven on Deer Park Avenue that night in 2001, witnesses said, he grabbed his gun and stormed into the parking lot.

Weiner told the driver of the car, Melissa Singh, then 19, to flee. Williams chased the car on side streets until he closed in on it at more than 80 mph while racing south on Deer Park Avenue.

Williams' girlfriend at the time, Rebecca Madigan, testified that he fired a shot at the car as it approached a railroad-track underpass. The car hit the embankment and flew in the air, ejecting Arena. The other women were badly injured.


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