A difficult chapter in the life of Michael and Lisa Carey will come to a close on Dec. 14 when 36-year-old Edwin Tirado will be sentenced for manslaughter in the death of the Careys' 13-year-old autistic son, Jonathan.
It took five hours for an Albany County jury to reach the verdict against Tirado, one of two former O.D. Heck Developmental Center employees, who, on the afternoon of Feb. 15, left Jonathan unconscious in a van after trying to restrain the child using a straightjacket method and then sitting on the boy before continuing to run personal errands with co-worker Nadeem Mall.
"I think the jury came to the right decision," said David Rossi, assistant Albany County District Attorney, who handled the case for the prosecution.
The Careys, who were in the courtroom throughout the trial, said the jury made the right decision.
"Lisa and I are relieved justice has been served," said Michael Carey. "Does it bring healing? No. The pain doesn't go away."
Mall pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and is serving a six-month sentence in Albany County jail. Tirado's case however went to trial earlier this month, and on Wednesday, Oct. 10, the jury came back with a guilty verdict.
Brian Donahue, Tirado's lawyer, said he was disappointed with the verdict and that Tirado's family believes he is innocent.
The Albany County District Attorney's Office cast a different light on Jonathan's death.
Jurors were told how Tirado and Mall drove around the Capital District for 90 minutes with Carey and another child in an O.D. Heck van, making various personal stops, including one at Crossgates Mall. Rossi said the prosecution focused on the fact that Tirado was trained to deal with Jonathan's behavior issues but was reckless in how he handled the boy.
"He clearly had knowledge that what he (Tirado) was doing was risky," said Rossi.
At some point during the ride, Jonathan began to show signs of distress. That is when Tirado restrained the boy forcibly, according to Rossi. To further compound matters, according to prosecutors, Tirado and Mall never called for immediate medical attention when Jonathan stopped breathing. Instead they continued to drive the van, making further stops.
When the group returned to the Niskayuna developmental center, Jonathan was pronounced dead.
Tirado faces between five and 15 years in state prison.
"The whole situation is tragic," said Carey. "Everybody is damaged in a different way.""