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Escobar gets 4-12 years in DWI death of daughter

Jose Escobar inside courtroom at Riverhead Criminal Court

Jose Escobar inside courtroom at Riverhead Criminal Court where he was sentenced to 4-12 years by Judge John Toomey for the DWI crash that killed his 10-month-old daughter in Brentwood in July of last year. An interpreter stands next to him. (July 23, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

No one spoke for the 10- month-old girl who was killed when her father drove drunk at 100 mph and crashed a year ago, so a Suffolk prosecutor did as the Westbury man was sentenced Tuesday to 4 to 12 years in prison.

Jose Escobar, 30, was sentenced for aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges in the July 2012 crash that ended with his car flying into the back of a 7-Eleven store in Brentwood. The crash killed his daughter, Helen, and seriously injured his pregnant wife, Marie Guillen.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco spoke scornfully of the couple as she recommended a sentence of 6 to 18 years. About 20 of Escobar's family members -- but not Guillen -- listened. They declined to comment.

"Someone must speak for the child," Brosco told Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. "Helen's mother speaks only for the defendant. Her mother did not protect her when she allowed the defendant to drive drunk at speeds of up to 100 mph."

Later, outside court, Brosco said Guillen refused to visit her dying child in the hospital, preferring to tend to Escobar instead. She suggested even though Guillen could not be charged with a crime, she was as much to blame for the crash as her husband, noting that she was sober but refused to drive that day.

"As a mother myself, it's very disturbing," Brosco said.

She said Escobar had a blood-alcohol content of .26 percent, more than three times the legal limit of .08 percent, as he raced south on Route 111, at times on the wrong side of the road. After he was cut out of the driver's seat, Brosco said he claimed his wife was driving.

Helen, who was in a car seat, suffered head injuries and died days later. Guillen had an emergency Caesarean section to deliver her baby, who is now in good health.

"I do recognize I made a mistake," Escobar said. "I also suffer because of this mistake. I lost part of my life. I lost my daughter."

In a flat monotone, he begged his family and friends to forgive him.

Before imposing the sentence, Toomey said the case was "tragic from every perspective." He said the sentence was a "significant period of incarceration."

Escobar's attorney, Phil Solages of Hauppauge, said his client is remorseful.

"My client will have to live with the results of his actions for the rest of his life," Solages said.

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