RIVERHEAD - A Ronkonkoma man was handed the maximum sentence of 5 1/2 to 16 1/2 years behind bars today for driving while under the influence of prescription drugs and causing a crash that killed a 5-year-old boy.
Prosecutors say Steven Kinalis had "doctor-shopped" and had multiple prescriptions for hundreds of pills when he caused the crash nearly two years ago on Sunrise Highway in Shirley. His vehicle collided with that of the Gaffney family, killing 5-year-old John Gaffney.
The Gaffneys had been going to get a Christmas tree when the crash happened.
Kinalis issued a tearful apology to the Gaffneys in court today. "I'm very sorry for the loss of your boy," he said ."Every day, I feel like a murderer."
But it was little comfort for the grieving family still coping with the loss of their son. "No matter how much time Steven Kinalis spends in prison, our family is sentenced to life without John," said Teri Gaffney, the boy's mother.
Prosecutors say Kinalis is one of the first people to plead guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide under the influence of prescription drugs in New York state.