THE BRONX (PIX11) — The man convicted of killing an FDNY EMT in the Bronx six years ago was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday.
Last month, Jose Gonzalez, 31, was found guilty of murder in the death of 44-year-old Yadira Arroyo, a 14-year veteran of the department and a mother of five children.
Judge Martin Marcus made the pronouncement Wednesday after hearing emotional statements from Arroyo’s aunt, her ambulance partner, and a paramedic from Arroyo’s station house.
Gonzalez also read a prepared statement.
“I was intoxicated with PCP,” he 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.”
Arroyo was killed near Watson Avenue and White Plains Road on March 16, 2017. Authorities said Arroyo exited her ambulance to confront Gonzalez about a possible robbery when he hopped into the ambulance and ran her over. Arroyo was pinned under the truck and dragged through an intersection before the ambulance crashed. She died shortly after.
An off-duty MTA police officer who was nearby confronted Gonzalez, tackled him, and handcuffed him, with the help of civilians, officials said.
Gonzalez could have received a minimum sentence of 20 years to life, according to his attorney. However, the judge said he felt the severity of the crime called for a stiffer 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.
Gonzalez was led out in shackles to begin his life sentence.
The court gallery, which was filled nearly to capacity with EMTs, paramedics, and Arroyo’s family members and supporters, broke into applause the moment Gonzalez was led out by court officers.
After the sentencing, Arroyo’s family joined District Attorney Darcel Clark for a news conference outside of the courthouse.
Alida Acevedo, Arroyo’s aunt, had read a statement in court on behalf of the family, calling for the maximum sentence. After it had been handed down, she held up the handcuffs used to subdue Gonzalez while he was in the courtroom.
“These here are the cuffs that held his hands, the hands that killed Yadi,” she announced and then glanced down to read an inscription made in them by court officers. “It says, ‘In memory of FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo,’” she continued. “This means a lot to us.”
In court, Gonzalez’s attorney said that he plans an appeal of the case.