Metro

Man gets 18 months in prison for Back Bay crash that killed couple

Patricia Lanzillotti cried in court where Mohamed Alfageeh pleaded guilty to charges that he killed her son, John, and his girlfriend, Jessica Campbell.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Patricia Lanzillotti cried in court where Mohamed Alfageeh pleaded guilty to charges that he killed her son, John, and his girlfriend, Jessica Campbell.

The death of her daughter Jessica, who was hit crossing a Back Bay street by a car that had barreled through a red light, did not fill her with rage, Ronnie Campbell said. The depths of her sorrow, the overwhelming sadness that left her family shattered, left little space for bitterness.

“My sense of grief and loss supersedes any sense of anger,” she told a hushed Boston courtroom on Friday, where the driver who killed Jessica Campbell, 27, and her boyfriend, John Lanzillotti Jr., 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of motor vehicle homicide.

“Nothing is going to bring Jess or Jack back to us. I just hope that people just remember them for what they were — two honest, really good people,” she said.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Mohamed Alfageeh wa sentenced to 18 months behind bars.
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Mohamed Alfageeh, 30, of Allston, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars and three years of probation for crashing into the Brookline couple in June as they crossed Beacon Street hand in hand during a walk.

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Prosecutors said Alfageeh ran through a traffic light at the intersection of Beacon and Fairfield streets seven seconds after it had turned red, smashing into a sedan and then spinning into the crosswalk.

“The impact of the crash killed Ms. Campbell and Mr. Lanzillotti,” said Gregory Henning, assistant district attorney for Suffolk County.

Henning said the couple had waited until “the light was in their favor” before crossing the street.

Alfageeh, a native of Yemen who moved to the United States in 2000, said through an Arabic interpreter that he accepted responsibility for the fatal crash, and wished to waive his right to a trial.

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If found guilty, he could have received a maximum sentence of five years.

His lawyer, John Seed, said Alfageeh never had any intention of contesting the charges, and did not want to put the two families through the burden of a trial.

“Certainly it was a horrendous accident,” Seed said. “He has expressed his sorrow to me on multiple occasions.”

Alfageeh, a US citizen, has a wife and four children, Seed said. He is the part owner of a convenience store.

He had no previous criminal or driving violation record, he said. He does not drink and was sober at the time of the accident.

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Outside the courtroom, Seed said Alfageeh was broken up over the couple’s deaths.

“His heart goes out to the families,” he said. “He has to live with this, and will for the rest of his life.”

Alfageeh had no memory of what happened immediately before the accident, Seed said.

Superior Court Judge Carol Ball, who imposed the sentence, wrote in a three-page memo that said she received many letters from the couple’s family that “movingly describe the devastating loss” they have suffered, and met with them before reaching a decision.

While considering an appropriate sentence, she also received heartwrenching letters from Alfageeh’s loved ones that expressed his remorse.

Ball said she was mindful that “we are dealing with criminal negligence, not intentional wrongdoing,” and that Alfageeh by all accounts was a “kind man who had been generous to his neighbors and acquaintances.”

“Although the sentence may not fully meet the hopes of the victims’ loved ones, or seem fair to those who seek the defendant’s freedom, it is, in my view, the most appropriate and just result,” she wrote.

Mohamed Alfageeh was allegedly driving the vehicle that struck Jessica Campbell, 27, and her boyfriend, John Lanzillotti, 28.
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Mohamed Alfageeh was allegedly driving the vehicle that struck Jessica Campbell, 27, and her boyfriend, John Lanzillotti, 28.

Campbell worked as a senior analyst for Kantar Retail. Lanzillotti was an Emmy-winning production manager for the Boston Red Sox.

Lanzillotti’s mother, Patricia, said she believed the crash could have been prevented, and that Campbell and her son “lived far too short of a life.”

“The grieving process is just very, very hard for all of us to deal with,’’ she said in court. “They were in love, and they complemented each other so well.’’

She recalled meeting them for lunch in Boston just a few days before they died, and how her son told her he loved her. On the night of the crash, she went to bed thinking what a lovely evening it had been.

A few hours later, two police officers showed up at her door. A few days later, she met Campbell’s parents for the first time.

“I’ll never have what I want, which is for my son to walk through the door,” she said.

Campbell’s mother said Jessica was her first child and was conceived after a decade of trying to become pregnant. She was a happy child, she said, who grew up to be a beautiful young woman. She liked to think she had the best qualities of both her parents.

Campbell had traveled some in college, and spent time in Europe. But her life was really just beginning.

“I don’t have the words to tell you how shattered we are,’’ she said.

Related:

Man pleads not guilty in Back Bay crash that killed couple

Couple in fatal Back Bay crash cooperating, lawyer says

Woman freed, not charged in fatal crash in Back Bay

Ronnie Campbell delivered an impact statement to a hushed Boston courtroom on Friday.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Ronnie Campbell delivered an impact statement to a hushed Boston courtroom on Friday.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect sentencing for Mohamed Alfageeh. He was ordered to spend 18 months in prison.