A Pleasantville cabdriver was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for leaving the scene of a 2011 accident that killed an Atlantic City woman.
Bu Do Jo, 88, died Dec. 3, 2011, after she was struck while crossing Pacific Avenue at about 3:50 p.m.
"She was the light of our lives and the warmth of our hearts," the woman's only granddaughter, Maree Moffatt, wrote in a letter to the court. "My mom's life and mine will forever have the empty space in our hearts."
Now, her baby daughter will grow up without the great-grandmother Moffatt knew as "a caregiver, friend and role model."
Moffatt said her mother was unable to come to court for Jean Sene’s sentencing due to her grief.
"What you did was irresponsible," she said in the letter read by victim-witness advocate Tricia Hayek.
Whether Sene's cab struck the woman was not at issue, since it was a jitney that delivered the fatal blow, according to information presented at trial. Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson said he was not convinced that there was contact made between the woman and the cab.
But the jitney's camera showed Jo was sent back into the jitney's lane as a result of Sene's taxi coming. The jitney then struck her.
Sene made a right turn from the left lane, saw the accident scene and left without reporting it, Sandson said.
That was his crime.
Defense attorney Steve Feldman did not agree, arguing that Sandson did not properly instruct the jury. The charge mentions contact, Feldman said outside the courtroom, after being denied a motion for a new trial.
Feldman said he will appeal, because the judge's ruling could make anyone even passing by a fatal accident responsible if they fail to stop.
"Let the Appellate Division tell me I'm wrong," he said.
Meanwhile, through an interpreter, Sene expressed his condolences, but maintained he was not at fault.
"I am very sorry for what happened because somebody's life is very important," Sene said. "The victim could be my mother. I am very, very sorry for that."
Sandson also found Sene not guilty of several motor vehicle offenses, including speeding, which he said was not proven.
"I think it was pretty clear the jitney was speeding, and he ends up not even being charged," Sandson said.
Feldman agreed, saying the video showed the jitney driver had at least half a city block to try to avoid the woman.
Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy pointed out that the video shows Jo was heading away from the jitney driver's lane and was pushed into it at the last minute.
"He didn't realize she would be in his lane," Levy said.
There is no mandatory time on the sentence.
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