The two drivers who were found responsible for a Long Island crash that killed a newly engaged couple in 2018 were sentenced on Tuesday afternoon.
However, the families of the victims are not satisfied with the ruling. They believe the drivers should have received the maximum sentences for their roles in the deaths of Yisroel Levin and Elisheva Kaplan.
The judge sentenced Rahmel Watkins to 18 years-to-life in prison, while Zakiyyah Steward was sentenced to between three and nine years.
The couple was driving home from a Passover celebration in the wee hours of April 5, 2018, when they were hit head-on.
According to the prosecutors, Watkins was traveling at over 100 miles per hour while Steward was impaired by drugs as she drove around 80 mph along the Nassau Expressway in Inwood.
The two were driving side by side until Watkins attempted to pass Steward. Watkins lost control of his car and slammed into Levin and Kaplan’s vehicle. The two died at the scene of the crash.
The couple’s families said they did not get the closure they were looking for. Levin’s father said he would like the sentencing judge to explain himself.
However, Watkins’ attorney had asked the judge not to impose the maximum prison term since his client was raised on the street and never had a chance.
Meanwhile, Steward’s mother said her daughter regretted her actions and Steward herself said she made a stupid decision. She noted that she would have to live with that decision for the rest of her life and expressed the hope that the families would forgive her someday.
Watkins did not address the court, but his attorney indicated that he was also sorry.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a car crash, reach out to a Buffalo car accident lawyer for advice and representation.