Michael Carr with his brother by his side leaves the Albany County Courthouse after his arraignment on April 13. (Photo by Jim Franco)
ALBANY – Michael Carr, the 19-year-old who crashed into a parked car outside Blessings Tavern in 2016 causing a massive fire and seriously injuring his passenger, Niko DiNovo, will spend the next six years in prison.
A host of DiNovo’s family and friends were in the courtroom on Tuesday, Jan. 30. His brother, Michael, spoke on behalf of the family as did his aunt.
“Unless you went there and seen him we can never describe what he is going through, what he looks like,” Michael DiNovo told Carr, according to broadcast reports. “Hopefully one day Niko can tell you how he feels when he makes a full recovery because that is exactly what he is going to do.”
Niko DiiNovo has been in the Westchester Hospital Burn Unit since the Oct. 28 crash with third degree burns over 95 percent of his body. He has undergone nearly 30 surgeries, but miraculously still survives.
“How can you not be strong when if he is being strong,” Michael DiNovo told reporters after the sentencing. “He keeps us pushing. If he can do his part of the fight we have to fight for him on the other side.”
Carr, who was free on bail until he violated his probation, appeared in court wearing a yellow Albany County jail jumpsuit. He did
apologize for his actions and broke down when shown a photo of Niko.
“I never met to hurt anyone and I never meant to make this mistake and I love Niko and I regret this every day. I think about him every day,” according to footage on broadcast television stations. “He is always in my thoughts and prayers and I never meant for this to happen.”
Davina Resciniti said Niko has lost all his fingers, his eye lids, his ears and part of his nose.
In December, 2017, Carr admitted to drinking Captain Morgan rum and smoking marijuana before the crash and pleaded guilty to felony assault and misdemeanor DWAI. A request by his attorney, Trevor Hannigan, to consider youthful offender status was denied by the judge, who mentioned his prior probation violation before the formal sentencing.
“It was not an accident,” Carter told the teen on Tuesday. “You need to understand that, and you will have six years to think about it.”
District Attorney David Soares, in a statement, reiterated that sentiment.
“Multiple families are forever changed because of his choice to drink, smoke marijuana, and drive a car at an excessive rate of speed,” Soares said. “Those criminal choices have consequences and Mr. Carr now has the next six years to think about them and hopefully make positive life choices upon his release from custody.”
An employee at Blessings and a patron were also taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital for treatment. The bar was destroyed, and while the owners have applied for a permit to re-build, construction has not yet started.
Vehicular Crimes Unit Bureau Chief Mary Tanner-Richter prosecuted the case.
“Niko’s family and the other victims have unfortunately received a life sentence,” she said. “It is our hope that the people who hear this story think twice before they, or someone they love, decide to drive under the influence and give another family a life sentence.”
Michael DiNovo said the amount of time Carr received was not relevant.
“It’s really not justice. Justice would be God Brining Niko back home to us,” according to broadcast reports. “That’s justice. Mikey Carr could stay a day or a million days in jail. That’s not going to change what happened to my brother.”