[anvplayer video=”1072320″ /] PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Massachusetts man was sentenced to prison Tuesday after changing his plea in a wrong-way crash that resulted in the death of a young couple last year.
Joel Norman, of Webster, pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges connected to a crash on Route 6 in Providence.
According to police, Norman was driving the wrong way on the highway at about 1:30 a.m. on April 5, 2015, when he struck another car head-on.
The occupants, 21-year-old Tiffany Sical and 23-year-old Brayan Rodriguez Solis, both died as a result. They were on the way back from the movies. Family members said the couple planned to get married in September of last year.
“I miss her, and it breaks my heart to see my granddaughter asking for her parents,” Tiffany’s father, Biron Sical, said in court Tuesday. “My life will never be the same. I miss her every day. I cry every day because I don’t want to accept that she’s not with us anymore.”
At Norman’s sentencing, the family played a video of the young parents singing to their little girl, Jayleen, on her fifth birthday.
“Joel Norman didn’t just kill my daughter,” said Lissett Sical, Tiffany’s mother, in a statement read out loud by the prosecutor. “He also killed me, my husband, my granddaughter.”
Sical’s statement also said Jayleen, now 6, has been confused about where her parents are and has been suffering in school as a result of their deaths.
Norman changed his plea to guilty on two counts of driving under the influence – death resulting, two counts of driving to endanger – death resulting, and one count of possession of cocaine. He initially pleaded not guilty in June of 2015.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Regine read the facts of the case aloud in court, which Norman admitted were correct.
According to Regine, Norman flew home to Massachusetts from Florida the day of the crash, after selling products for the Home Shopping Network. He rode in a limousine from Logan Airport to Webster, then drove to Providence to meet friends for drinks at a nightclub.
Surveillance footage showed Norman drinking at several locations throughout the night, and even stumbling into a doorway, before walking to his parked car at about 1:10 a.m. He entered Route 6 traveling south in the northbound lanes and was going in the wrong direction for about a mile before he struck Sical’s car head-on.
Sical died at the scene, and Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the hospital just before 2 a.m.
Prosecutors said police obtained a search warrant for Norman’s blood after he refused to take a blood test. At about 5:30 a.m., four hours after the crash, his blood-alcohol content registered at .163, more than twice the legal limit.
Cocaine was also found inside Norman’s car, according to prosecutors.
In court Tuesday, Norman apologized for the pain he has caused.
“That terrible car accident that cut their significant life short is my fault,” he said.
Norman was sentenced to 20 years with twelve to serve at the ACI followed by three years home confinement, with the rest suspended with probation until the year 2036. He’ll have a 10-year license suspension upon his release and a $10,000 fine, along with substance abuse counseling.
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