Woman sentenced in fatal Darien truck accident
Updated 2:33 pm, Wednesday, February 22, 2012
STAMFORD -- A judge sentenced a 26-year-old Hartford woman to six years in prison Wednesday for a drunk-driving crash that killed a pregnant teenager and a truck driver last May on Interstate 95 in Darien.
Yadira Torres, of Benton Street, Hartford, was taken away in handcuffs after Judge Richard Comerford handed down a 10-year prison sentence, suspended after six years served and followed by five years of probation. The fatal crash occurred around 6 a.m. on May 7 when Torres, a mother of four children, was driving back from an alcohol-fueled birthday celebration at a Manhattan nightclub when she hit a tractor-trailer, causing it to overturn and burst into flames.
The crash killed James A. Sorto, 42, and a passenger, Kelly Taborda, 18, both of North Bergen, N.J. It took several days for the state medical examiner to identify Sorto because of extensive burns. Taborda, who was pregnant, according to state police, died at Stamford Hospital from multiple blunt trauma injuries. Sorto was pronounced dead at the crash site.
Police arrested Torres at the crash scene. This past November, she pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter and single counts of reckless driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She agreed to serve between five and eight years in prison as part of a plea deal, and Comerford on Wednesday decided on a six-year prison term.
During the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor, Assistant State's Attorney David Applegate, argued for a prison sentence that was less than the eight-year maximum but more than the five-year minimum, according to the plea agreement.
Torres' public defender, Howard Ehring, recommended the five-year minimum, arguing that Torres is not likely to drink again. Ehring said his client accepted responsibility for the fatal crash right away and suffered several emotional episodes in the months following the accident that required medical attention.
Ehring said that Torres, who was free on $35,000 bail before the sentencing, sent two of her children to live in Puerto Rico. The other two now live with their biological father. Comerford cut off Ehring when he emphasized that Torres would not see her children for long periods of time because of the prison sentence.
"I suppose it's better than going to the cemetery, Mr. Ehring," Comerford said.
Comerford said even a six-year prison sentence may do little to help the victim's relatives.
"You just can't alleviate the kind of pain they will feel for the rest of their lives," Comerford said.