Rodriguez, 23, tears streaming down his face and his voice cracking, spoke in English and Spanish to a sobbing group of relatives that included his mother. The tall, bearded man said to his victims: “I know my apology is not going to bring your family back.” Then, he looked across the packed Common Pleas courtroom and added: “To Ms. Brown, I extremely apologize.”
Janice Brown, 48, lost her daughter, Latoya Smith, 22, and granddaughter, Remedy Smith, almost 1, in the carnage.
Also killed were Aaliyah Griffin, 6, and Gina Marie Rosario, 7.
“Justice was served, I believe,” said Brown, who is caring for one of her late daughter’s two surviving children. “I felt for them knowing that they’re going to spend the rest of their lives behind bars without parole. I know they didn’t mean to, but that’s the consequences. You have to pay for your crimes.”
Kaillalah Griffin, 27, Aaliyah’s mother, said: “It’s still hard. That’s my first daughter — she’s the one that made me a mom. She’s my best friend and they took it away from me. I’ll never get to see her with kids; I won’t see her in college; I won’t see her get married. All of those memories, they stole them from me.”
Tammy Rosario, 34, Gina’s mother, said: “I’m very happy. I waited almost three years. ... We finally got justice. Now, I feel at rest.”
Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy told the jury that the crash was not an accident because it was the final link in an unbroken chain of events that started about five minutes earlier with the defendants’ stealing a motorcycle at gunpoint 1.7 miles from the crash.
Rodriguez drove off on the bike and Craddock left the scene in the Pontiac the two had been cruising in. A cop, tipped by a witness, followed Craddock with his lights flashing but lost him before the crash.
“The carnage that rained down on that baby, those two children and that young mother that day was unspeakable as they enjoyed the nice spring night,” Conroy said after leaving court.
Defense attorney Rania Major-Trunfio, for Rodriguez, and Nick Pinto, for Craddock, who was represented during the trial by attorney Michael Farrell, said that they would appeal because the facts do not support second-degree-murder convictions and Judge Lillian H. Ransom made errors when she instructed the jury in the law before deliberations. n
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