PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Pawtucket man was reduced to tears Friday as he apologized to the families of three women who died as a result of a crash he was accused of causing last year.
Police say James Belanger had a blood-alcohol content of .139 and marijuana and cocaine in his system when he slammed into a utility pole on Walcott Street, splitting his car in half.
Emily Howell, 20, Teresa Leary, 24, and Fatima Rosa, 22, were all pronounced dead at the hospital following the crash. All three were in the back seat of Belanger's vehicle and were not wearing seatbelts, according to police.
The victims' families presented impact statements in court Friday.
Judge Montalbano told parents he lost a child at 23 and he's "painfully aware" there's no comfort he could provide.
Belanger, 23, pleaded no contest to three counts each of driving under the influence (death resulting) and leaving the scene of an accident (death resulting).
In exchange for his plea, charges of driving to endanger and possession of a controlled substance were dismissed.
Belanger was sentenced to 30 years with 15 to serve in prison and the remaining 15 suspended with probation. He will get credit for time already served.
Belanger broke down as he read an apology to the victims' families.
"I never meant to hurt no one and I'm sorry for what I've done," he said. "I did not wish no pain upon nobody. Sorry won't cut it and I understand how much you don't like me, but I despise myself."
In addition to the prison sentence, Belanger was fined $10,000 and will also lose his license for eight years upon his release from prison.
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