Man who killed FDNY firefighter in NYC road rage incident gets 25 years

BROOKLYN (WABC) -- A man who killed an off-duty FDNY firefighter during a road rage incident in Brooklyn in December of 2018 was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison.

Joseph Desmond was convicted of murder in the death of 33-year-old Faizal Coto after the two got into a minor accident near the Verrazzano Bridge on the Belt Parkway.

They pulled over to the side of the road, and Desmond approached Coto, struck him in the head with a heavy object, and fled. Coto later died from multiple skull fractures.

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Desmond was arrested at a motel in New Jersey and extradited back to New York City on a parole violation before being charged with murder.

In court Friday, Desmond was defiant to the very end -- even as the victim's mother sobbed uncontrollably in the second row. Even as the victim's brother struggled to hold it together.

"You took away someone who meant the world to so many people," Ishmael Coto said. "You took away our moments. You took away a mother's favorite son. Faizal was a mama's boy. And his goal in life was to take care of his mom and to make sure she was always happy and set in life."

Prosecutors say Desmond was a gang member from Staten Island once convicted on hate crimes charges for attacking a gay man with a stun gun.

Coto's funeral in 2018 drew hundreds of firefighters, including his colleagues from Engine 245 in Coney Island.

"We lose far too many members in the line of duty," said FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro, who was joined by dozens of firefighters at the hearing. "But we also take care of the members that are in our family that we lose off duty."

In court, Desmond offered no remorse and questioned the evidence in the case.

"It's a falsified type of evidence," he said.

With that, the judge imposed the maximum sentence.

"It is this court's earnest hope and desire that you never, ever be released from prison," Judge Vincent Del Giudice said.

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District Attorney Eric Gonzalez lauded the sentence.

"The murder was the kind of senseless attack that shakes our society," he said.

Coto was a three-year veteran of the FDNY. He was also an aspiring rapper and hip-hop artist performing under the name FAIYA.

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