WILKES-BARRE – Aloysius McLaughlin was the backbone of his family, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A loving husband, father, grandfather and uncle who was taken from his family on June 30, 2011, when he was struck by a vehicle driven by 34-year-old Karen McCann.
"If I would have known I hit Mr. McLaughlin that day, I would have stopped," McCann, of Wilkes-Barre, said before she was sentenced to four to eight years in state prison Thursday. "I did not know I hit him … I am very sorry."
In July, McCann pleaded guilty to a dozen charges, including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.
Prosecutors say McLaughlin, 63, was working as a landscaper in front of a home at 173 Third Ave., Kingston, at the time of the incident. Police said McCann was driving a Chevrolet Trailblazer that struck McLaughlin. He later died at a hospital of multiple traumatic injuries, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said McCann had cocaine and prescription medications in her system at the time. A co-worker of McLaughlin's said he saw the vehicle strike McLaughlin, and he ran after the SUV, attempting to have McCann stop.
Assistant district attorneys Alexis Falvello and Jarrett Ferentino showed McCann and a packed courtroom full of family and friends, photos of McLaughlin's life.
Pictures of McLaughlin – or "Wishy" as he was known as among family and friends – with his four grandchildren; with his wife, Rosemary; at family gatherings and holidays; at weddings and on vacation at the beach.
"You took something so precious to me," McLaughlin's daughter, Tamara Sapack, noting her father would have celebrated his 65th birthday last Wednesday.
Sapack heard crying that night and found her young daughter, Julia, in her bedroom.
" ‘I miss poppy,' " Sapack said her daughter told her.
"I forgive you, but you need to be punished," Sapack said, adding she believes McCann needs help and hopes she can turn her life around.
"(McLaughlin) was truly an innocent victim," Ferentino said. "He was retired and working … to help his family … and his life was cut short."
Falvello said she was concerned because McCann has "continually deflected" responsibility.
"She knew what she was doing and what she had done," she said.
Falvello said McCann is a danger to the community with her substance abuse problems that span more than a 20-year period.
McCann had previously been charged with driving under the influence and had been charged with driving offenses 33 hours before the McLaughlin incident.
McCann's attorney, Peter Moses, said he believed McCann's sentence was fair and balanced.
"She'll be able to get back on her feet and prove to society she can be a productive member," Moses said.
He said he erred on the side of caution from the beginning, instructing McCann not to talk to any of the victim's family members until the time of sentencing.
"I should have never gotten in the car that morning," McCann said. "I'll never be free. I'll be sentenced in my mind forever…"