Anthony Gallo, the man convicted in April of driving while impaired by drugs when he hit and killed 19-year-old college student Cassandra Boone, was sentenced Thursday to up to 32 years in state prison.
“Your actions not only took the life of Cassandra Boone, but affected permanently her family and friends,” acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino told Gallo.
Pamela Bolden, Boone’s mother, described her daughter as an inspiration to all who loved her, someone who had the ambition to always move forward toward what she wanted in life. What she wanted, Bolden said, her dream, was to own her own day care one day.
“Cassandra was wonderful with children,” Bolden, in court but visibly distraught, told the court in a written statement read by a friend.
Gallo, 35, of Rotterdam, expressed no regret in court Thursday.
Prosecutor Brian Gray described Gallo as a man who drove under the influence of drugs as he sped down Erie Boulevard through a red light, hitting Boone as she legally crossed at State Street the evening of Nov. 16, 2011. After hitting Boone, Gallo kept driving.
That Gallo left showed who he really was, Bolden told the court. “The defendant showed no respect for the life of another human being,” Bolden said. “Only a person with a cold heart could leave my daughter in the street the way he did.”
In finding Gallo guilty, a Schenectady County jury concluded he was high on drugs at the time of impact, a key component to the aggravated vehicular homicide count.
Gallo conceded at trial he was the driver, but denied being high on drugs.
Gallo’s attorney, Michael Mansion, cited letters written in support of his client, saying Gallo is a different man from the one portrayed at trial.
“The Anthony Gallo that the jury saw is certainly not the Anthony Gallo that I had my dealings with in this case,” Mansion said.
The prosecutor, though, highlighted Gallo’s history and his “utter disrespect for the laws of our state.”
Gallo, Gray told the court, had no valid driver’s license from 1997 onward, yet he drove and had friends register and insure his vehicles.
Gallo also has been a drug user since his teens, going from alcohol and marijuana to heroin, PCP, crack cocaine and pills, Gray said. He added that Gallo had been on probation three times and it had been revoked each time.
Gray successfully argued for consecutive sentences related to the aggravated vehicular homicide count and the count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Each, Gray told the court, were distinct acts, the second starting when the first was complete. With the consecutive sentences, Giardino gave Gallo a total term of 14 years, 9 months, to 32 years in state prison, meaning he has to serve the minimum term before he is eligible for parole.
Gallo, Gray said, didn’t know that bystanders would be there to help.
“She could have been lying on that street for hours, for all he knows,” Gray told the court. “He can’t even make an anonymous call.
“Those actions,” Gray said, “are just despicable.”
The impact on Boone’s family was evident in court Thursday morning. “I want the court to know,” Bolden said, “that my daughter Cassandra Boone was somebody special in Schenectady.”