Jose Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison this morning without the possibility of parole for fatally running over FDNY paramedic Yadira Arroyo while getting behind the wheel of his ambulance in The Bronx in 2017.
“Judge Martin Marcus made the pronouncement Wednesday after hearing emotional statements from Arroyo’s aunt, her ambulance partner, and a paramedic from Arroyo’s police station,” Pix11 summarized.
Gonzalez (31) also read a prepared statement. “I was intoxicated with PCP” (phencyclidine or “angel dust”), said from the defense table. “I never knew what was going on… I never meant to hurt anyone. It was an accident. I’m sorry.”
“It was not an accident. It was murder,” prosecutor Michael Schordine had bluntly stated in March at the close of the trial in which Gonzalez was later found guilty of killing Arroyo, a 44-year-old mother, leaving five orphaned children.
It’s hard not to overstate the seriousness of the crime.”Judge Martin Marcus
According to his lawyer, Gonzalez could have received a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in prison. However, the judge said he felt the severity of the crime called for a harsher punishment. “You drove back and forth, back and forth” over Arroyo’s body “until [she] was lifeless. It’s hard not to overstate the severity of the crime,” Judge Marcus said.
“Today, Jose Gonzalez was sentenced to life without parole for the horrible and senseless death of Yadira Arroyo, mother of five. It closes a long and difficult chapter for the victim’s family and his colleagues at the FDNY,” commented Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark on his Twitter account.
Ithas been an extended mourning that now totals six years for the family of Arroyo, who died on March 16, 2017. In his honor, one of his brothers became an FDNY paramedic, and a street was named after him in The Bronx.
Gonzalez’s first court appearance came in April 2017, when he pleaded “not guilty” to being charged with manslaughter for running Arroyo over twice. The case was then delayed for more than 50 hearings, and even in 2018, he was diagnosed mentally unfit to face trial.
Before this event, Gonzalez had a long rap sheet of criminal records and drug use. “This case dragged on for almost six long years, but we can finally breathe knowing that justice was served for our sister EMT, Yadira Arroyo,” commented after the verdict in March Oren Barzilay, president of her union, FDNY EMS Local 2507. “The outcry of support and love for her family has been enormous, and they can finally rest.”
Arroyo was a 14-year veteran of the NYC Fire Department assigned to Station 26 when she went to work overtime on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. She was driving with her partner Monique Williams when they discovered Gonzalez in the back of their ambulance around 7:15 p.m. near the corner of Watson Ave. and White Plains Road in the Soundview neighborhood.
When the EMTs pulled up, Gonzalez jumped out of the vehicle and attempted to steal a backpack from a passing man, authorities said. When Arroyo came out to investigate, Gonzalez jumped into the ambulance and ran over it twice.