Apologetic driver in double-fatal crash in Lindenhurst sentenced
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Accompanied by his family and lawyers, David O'Brien, center, arrives at court in Riverhead for his sentencing Friday. Credit: John Roca
By Andrew Smith email@example.com Updated July 26, 2019 5:16 PM
A Lindenhurst man's tearful apology Friday to the families of the friends he killed while driving high on drugs did not impress the families or convince a Suffolk County Court judge to impose a lighter sentence.
Judge Anthony Senft sentenced David O'Brien, now 19, to 4 to 12 years in prison. Senft decided there was no reason to offer less than the top sentence he had promised O'Brien when he pleaded guilty in May. The sentence already is less than half of the maximum 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide.
O'Brien pleaded guilty to a 17 charges related to the deaths of Joseph Galdorisi, 16, and Maggie Miller, 24. They were passengers in O'Brien's car when he lost control of his Ford Mustang on North Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst and hit a tree when he was driving while high on marijuana and Xanax.
"I know I will never know the feeling you all feel," O'Brien said in court to Galdorisi's family. Miller's family was not present.
Senft — like the Galdorisi family and Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahern — said he was troubled not only by the crime, but by a social media post made before O'Brien's arrest in which he joked about driving while high, which contrasted with O'Brien's expression of remorse Friday.
"What troubles me most is your conduct immediately after the event," Senft told O'Brien. "To a large extent, this is a tale of two persons."
The judge also told the Galdorisi family he understood that no sentence would be satisfactory to them.
"No matter what I do, it will not make you whole," Senft said.
O'Brien said the crash — which left him with a traumatic brain injury and broken legs — and its aftermath have changed him.
"To the families of Joseph Galdorisi and Maggie Miller, I've waited a long time to say this, but I'm so sorry," he said, his voice breaking.
He also apologized for the hurt caused by his social media post. "I promise to forever be better," he said, adding that he hoped to counsel other teenagers to avoid doing what he did.
His attorney, George Duncan, said he instructed his client not to apologize while the case was pending because that could be seen as an admission of guilt. But he said O'Brien has been remorseful from the start, noting that O'Brien did apologize in a different social media post.
Duncan asked Senft to sentence O'Brien as a youthful offender, which would have resulted in a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. Senft refused, a decision that Duncan said later he would appeal.
Ahern said O'Brien should have known better the night of the crash, not only because he had been arrested before for marijuana possession, but also because of a close call earlier that night due to his reckless driving.
He said Miller, who was estranged from her family, had just reconnected with her mother and planned to go home to Arizona for Thanksgiving.
O'Brien's behavior before and after the crash were inexcusable, no matter what his age was, Ahern said. He said the post joking about driving while high was "like pulling a pin and rolling a grenade toward the victim's family."
After the sentencing, Galdorisi's father, Anthony Galdorisi Jr., said he was unmoved by O'Brien's apology.
"It's too late," he said. "It didn't make a difference to me. To me, it's an act. It was all staged."
He said he wished the sentence could have been longer, "but this is the system we have to deal with, I guess."
Christine Galdorisi, Joseph's mother, said, "I'm just glad it's over, so we can be together to grieve our son."
But she said she hoped her family's anguish sent a message to other young people thinking about driving while drunk or high.
"We're the faces of the pain of the families," she said.
As O'Brien left the courtroom in handcuffs, Senft told him, "Mr. O'Brien, I wish you all the best. Use the time to improve yourself. When you're released from state's prison, come out a better man."