The man accused of driving the car that struck and killed two pedestrians after running a red light in the Back Bay this summer will serve 18 months in prison. Mohamed Alfageeh, 30, previously pleaded not guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide in the June 21 car crash on Beacon Street that killed a Brookline couple: John Lanzillotti, 28, and Jessica Campbell, 27. Alfageeh reversed that not guilty plea this morning.
As part of a plea deal Judge Carol Ball of Suffolk County Superior Court is requiring he spend 18 months behind bars followed by 18 months probation. If he violates his probation terms, that probation period could be served in prison instead. His license has also been suspended.
Alfageeh, of Allston, was in court Friday accompanied by a translator. He is from Yemen, and told the judge that though speaks some English, his first language is Arabic. Alfageeh has a wife and four children, and is a United States citizen, according to The Boston Globe.
Assistant District Attorney Gregory Henning detailed the events of the crash at the hearing, stating that video evidence shows Alfageeh ran a red light at the intersection of Fairfield and Beacon streets in his Ford Explorer, striking the front of an oncoming vehicle. Officials say Alfageeh’s car spun into a crosswalk, where Lanzillotti and Campbell were crossing the street, holding hands.
Family members of the victims in the gallery cried and comforted each other as they listened.
Jessica Campbell’s mother delivered an impact statement to the court, saying she had not prepared a speech, because “it was hard enough to write an obituary.’’
“I don’t have the words to tell you how shattered we are,’’ she said. “It took ten years of tests and doctors and pills to have my first child, Jessica… I like to think she was the best of us.’’
She also addressed her feelings toward the defendant. “I’m not full of anger like some people think I should be… my sense of loss supersedes any anger,’’ she said. “Nothing is going to bring Jess or Jack back to us.’’
Lanzillotti’s mother spoke next. “[Jack’s] love of baseball and his love of Boston led him to Fenway Park,’’ she said. Lanzillotti was a manager of Red Sox productions and game operations. Campbell was a retail analyst.
“They were in love and they complemented each other so well,’’ Mrs. Lanzillotti said.
Both family members said they received kind words and cards from people close to Jessica and Jack after the crash, detailing the positive impact the two had on those around them and at work. Lanzillotti’s mother said the two families met for the first time as a result of the deaths.
Alfageeh’s lawyer called the incident a “horrendous accident’’ that has left his client “forever in debt’’ to the families. Alfageeh agreed to give up his right to a trial, stating “yes’’ after each of Judge Ball’s statements was translated to him.
“I just hope people remember [Jack and Jessica] for what they were,’’ Lanzillotti’s mother said. “Two honest, really good people.’’
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated an incorrect prison sentence length. Alfageeh will serve a total of 18 months behind bars, not six.