David Smith, 53, in court
BUFFALO, NY-- A Niagara Falls man who pled guilty to killing two women last November on a bike path while riding his motorcycle drunk will spend the next 4 to 12 years in prison.
David Smith, 53, cried and apologized to the families before he was sentenced.
He pled guilty in January to vehicle manslaughter, vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated.
Smith admitted that he was drunk this past November when he lost control of his motorcycle and drove onto a bike path and struck Jocelyn Elberson, 25, and Sheila Pelton, 81, killing both women. Pelton's husband Foster was seriously hurt, but survived. Foster was in court for the sentencing in a wheelchair. He did not speak, but his granddaughter and daughter-in-law did address the court.
Natalie Pelton told the court how the accident involving her grandparents has changed her life. "The conscious decision Dave Smith made to have a booze filled night of getting drunk is the reason for darkness inside my heart." Her mother Lisa, said she has forgiveness in her heart for Smith, but said to Smith, "you've had previous DWI's and you've not learned anything from any of them and that's why we are all here today."
Prosecutors said Smith had four DWI arrests in New York, a DWI in Florida in 2010 and another in Ohio in 2005.
Smith in handcuffs, cried and apologized, saying "I want you to know how sorry I am for what I did, this is all my fault. I'm not blaming anyone but myself. I want to personally apologize to Jocelyn Elberson's family, and the Pelton family. I wish I could turn the clock back, but I can't. I've been riding motorcycles a good part of my life and I've never had an accident. I remember approaching that curve, I should've been more careful, I can't tell you how much I regret drinking that day. From my history, I should've known better. Again, I am so, so sorry."
Kathleen Elberson was with her daughter the day of the accident. " My last memory of my beautiful daughter is her laying on the bike path. She flew like 135-feet. I wake up at night with a picture in my head feeling helpless."
Deanna Russo, executive director of Crusade Against Impaired Driving was in the courtroom for the sentencing. She told reporters, "lives that were snuffed out too early because of a DWI, this doesn't need to happen. Drunk driving is a choice." Russo's sister was killed by a drunk driver.
Judge Penny Wolfgang said she took into consideration the victims families statements and letters and letters on behalf of the defendant. In reference to Smith, she said she considered letters that explained he has a "wonderful family, (his) hardworking background, generosity to others and that he pled guilty, sparing the families an emotional trial."