Man gets 5 to 15 years in Brooklyn hit and run that killed 12-year-old girl

Kemberly Richardson Image
Monday, May 16, 2016
Man sentenced for hit and run that killed young Brooklyn girl
Kemberly Richardson has more from Downtown Brooklyn.

FLATLANDS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A man was sentenced Monday to five to 15 years behind bars for the hit-and-run accident that killed a young girl in Brooklyn two years ago.

Robert DeCarlo, 28, was driving a stolen van in the Flatlands section around 4:45 p.m. on July 2 when he plowed into 12-year-old Joie Sellers, who was standing with her mother, 38-year-old Marcia Landais, and 9-year-old sister Charli at the time of the accident.

DeCarlo climbed out of the window and fled the scene, surrendering the following day. The minivan had been stolen days prior to the fatal crash.

"You watched them, and you climbed out on top of her, and you climbed over their bodies, and you ran the opposite direction," prosecutor Gayle Dampf said. "While she lay there, another selfish, disposable act by you."

He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault.

"Robert DeCarlo was sentenced to the maximum allowed by law on this case, but this will never compensate for the loss of Joie Sellers, a beautiful and vibrant young girl who was robbed of her life because of the defendant's reckless and irresponsible actions," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said. "We will continue to hold drivers accountable for the choices they make behind the wheel."

DeCarlo was high on drugs and speeding in excess of 50 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone when he lost control of the vehicle, mounted the sidewalk and struck the three victims.

Joie Sellers suffered massive injuries and was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Charli Sellers suffered head trauma and was in a coma for several weeks, while Landais suffered pelvic fractures. Both underwent physical therapy to recover from their injuries.

Speaking directly DeCarlo in court Monday, Landais was a pillar of strength.

"Mr. DeCarlo has robbed me the pleasure of saying each morning, 'wake up girls, it's time for school,'" she said. "On July 2, 2014, my status of mother of two horrifically became a status of a mother of one."

Before the judge sentenced DeCarlo, he listened as Landais described how confused Charli was at Joie's funeral.

"'Mommy, I thought we were suppose to bury you, why are we burying Joie?'" Landais said.

She also described how life without the outgoing, happy fifth grader has left a void that will never be filled.

"Mother's Day was extremely hard, and so when someone says how many children do you have, I say one," she said. "One here, and one in heaven."