A civil court case between a Mattituck woman and the family of Joseph Marino ended on Thursday, when the two sides formally agreed to a financial restitution settlement and Caroline Goss admitting in an open courtroom that driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol led to the death of the 15-year-old Hampton Bays teen in August of 2009.
With Marino's mother, Dorothy, crying in the first row of a State Supreme Courtroom in Riverhead, and Goss crying at the stand, Goss stated on the record that her actions led to the premature death of Joseph Marino.
"I want to tell you that I'm sorry," Goss said. "And let it be known that I take responsibility for what happened that day ... I knew I drank and got behind the wheel, and endangered your son's life."
Under the terms of the civil settlement, Goss will be required to write a $300 check to Marino - or in the case of her death, her estate or heir(s) - every month for 20 years. Marino will also be entitled to a $50,000 insurance claim paid out by Statewide Insurance.
Goss, who also had her six-year old child in the car at the time of the accident nearly three years ago, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, serving four months jail time.
Marino spoke with members of the media following the brief court appearance, saying that after three years in court, she finally heard on Thursday what she's been waiting to hear for three years.
"It’s what I needed to hear all along," she said. "It was the only reason we did this. I’ve said it before, and I'll say it again, there is no amount of money in the world that can make up for the loss of my son. But to have her finally admit the only reason he’s not here is because she was drunk – that’s what this was all about. She had to say those words. She had to finally admit that it wasn’t my son’s fault. It was her fault."
Goss' admission was part of the settlement, according to prosecutors.
Goss also asked that somehow, Marino could find a way to forgive her, though the mother said the wound left behind by Joseph's death is too deep.
"I don’t believe there’s any forgiveness with this. I do feel sympathy for her children, because they are innocent victims in this, but my son is the ultimate victim. And I just don’t see forgiveness. There’s more anger … Part of the anger was about her trying to blame my son. So now that’s she’s admitted it was all her fault, that part of the anger I can finally let go of."