EASTPORT - An Eastport father of four has been sentenced to no more than seven years in prison for a fatal hit-and-run last year.
As News 12 has reported, Peter Torrillo hit 27-year-old Erika Strebel and her brother-in-law Edward Barton last November while they were stopped at a gas station on the side of Montauk Highway in Eastport. Torrillo fled the scene after her body was thrown 50 feet. Barton says he was dragged by Torrillo’s car.
Barton was in court Tuesday, still wheelchair-bound from his injuries.
“When I woke up on the ground, I remember I could barely breathe,” Barton told News 12. “I was bleeding on the inside. I thought I was going to take my last breath right then and there.”
Torrillo was found after paint chips from the scene matched his car. The families had known each other for years, officials say.
The sentence is the maximum the judge could give him under the current hit-and-run laws. Strebel’s family says the sentence was not harsh enough.
“Peter Torrillo will get to go home to his family, and Erika will not,” said Maureen Strebel, the victim’s sister. “I will never understand how she gets the death sentence, and he gets what he gets.”
Prosecutors say Torrillo’s case highlights the need for stricter hit-and-run laws. They say if a drunken or drug-impaired driver hit and killed someone, they would face up to 25 years behind bars. But in this case, they are legally bound and the defendant will face no more than 2 1/3 to seven years in prison.
“It's a slap on the wrist for being a murderer,” said Barton.
In a statement, Suffolk District Attorney Tom Spota urged the New York State Senate and Assembly to vote for tougher hit-and-run laws during the final weeks of the legislative session.