Franklin Reyes gets 9 years in prison in death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- A man who pleaded guilty to killing a 4-year-old girl when he crashed onto a Manhattan sidewalk was sentenced to up to nine years in prison Friday.

Franklin Reyes, Jr., who was 17 at the time, was in his parents' SUV being chased by police in June 2013 when he crashed, killing Ariel Russo and injuring her grandmother as they walked to school.

That grandmother, who still suffers from her injuries, was unable to hold back her emotions in court. And after living through the pain for three years, the family members were finally able to have their voices heard.

"My heart is broken in a million pieces," Katia Gutierrez said. "I miss her more than words can ever describe."

Mom Sofia Russo also poured out her feelings, remembering the wonderful moments with her little girl, whose life was cut short in the deadly crash.

"You brought harm, violence and death to my mother and daughter where they should have been safe," she said. "If there is someone you would give your life for, then you know what I had."

She aimed her sharp criticism at the 19-year old Reyes.

"Ariel died a violent death because of your reckless behavior, and you have not apologized," she said.

While Reyes' plea deal sends him to jail for a maximum of nine years, he could come up for parole in a year and half with time served.

"I truly in my heart apologize to the entire Russo family," he said in court. "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that I have caused. I will carry this tragic accident for the rest of my life, knowing that I took the life of an innocent child."

Those words, however, rang hollow to the Russo family.

"It was just words," Sofia Russo said. "I have to see his actions. What is he going to do when he gets out of prison?"

When Reyes is up for parole, the Russos say they will be there to make sure he stays in prison for the maximum nine years.
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