Kate Regan of New Canaan was sentenced to five years' probation after pleading guilty Friday to negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and evading responsibility in connection with the August 2010 death of Krishna Jayaraman, 82, in front of his Oenoke Road home.
The plea deal with Judge Maureen Dennis in state Superior Court in Norwalk came despite objections from a prosecutor, who said Regan should get some jail time.
But the deal was supported by Krishna family (past reports have referred to the family as the "Jayaraman" family, but it was referred to as the "Krishna family" throughout the court hearing).
Krishna Jayaraman's son, also named Krishna Jayaraman, said at the hearing that the family didn't want Regan's children to suffer from her absence.
"We have grieved over this for the last three years," Krishna told the judge. "It's been rather painful for me, this loss of my father. It's been misery for my mother, but my children have suffered as well.
"Nevertheless, we feel that asking for revenge is not the right solution," he continued. "I just don't want those kids [Regan's children] to suffer for the mistakes she made. I would like the court to punish her for leaving my grandfather to die. I don't think jail would be a solution for her children."
Regan, who blinked frequently during the mid-afternoon hearing in state Superior Court in Norwalk, also spoke:
"Dr. Krishna, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. I waited and waited a very long time to reach out to you to express my deepest sympathy and regret for your very tragic loss. [...] It's crucially important to me that you know not a day goes by that I don't think of your father. I live with this every single day and will for the rest of my life."
Regan said she understands that his family is grieving deeply and added, "I hope to speak with you again privately to express those feelings in depth and I wish the best for you and your family."
Jayaraman responded, "I look forward to it." At the end of the hearing, the two shook hands. Afterward, Jayarama said in the hallway of the courthouse that his family feels forgiveness for Regan.
Asked what was going through his mind to hear Regan's apology, he said, "I'm just overwhelmed right now -- I can't say. I'm filled with emotion."
Nicole Peco, the state prosecutor in the case, told the judge that the state disagreed with not having jail time for Regan included in the sentence. The matter is a serious issue and a safety issue, she said.
'The state looks at the factual allegatiosn: The fact that the defendant left the scene and engaged in a series of lies, contacted multiple insurance companies," without contacting police, Peco said.
Peco said the prosecution recommendation was that Regan get a 10-year sentence, suspended after one year in prison, with five years' probation.
Judge Dennis said that Krishna had asked to meet with her in her chambers before the sentencing, and that they had done so. "It's an unusual circumstance," Dennis said. "I normally don't get the chance to do that. A very important component of what I do is based on victim input. [...] I usually get it second- or third-hand.
"I was impressed by what Dr. Krishna said and the reasons he said it. [...] It's quite a remarkable position, and but for that position, the sentencing here today would be very different."
"I'm hoping the sentence today will achieve a fair and equitable result, and, indeed, honor Dr. Krishna's father."
For evading responsibility involving a death with a motor vehicle, Regan was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended, and five years of probation. For negligent homicide, the judge sentenced her to six moths in prison, suspended, and a one-year probation period. Both sentences would run concurrently.
Regan is to perform 300 hours of community service, Dennis said, "to be done in some fashion or locations involving work with senior citizens, particularly senior citizens who have suffered the loss of a partner or a loved one."
Regan must also attend a program dealing with families victimized by vehicular homicide. Regan's car, seized at about the time she was arrested, is to be returned to her.
Jayaraman's lawyer, Frederic Ury, as well as Regan's attorneys -- James Ruane for the criminal case and John Whitcomb, representing her in a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million in damages that Jayarama's family filed against her -- were all at the court hearing. No mention of the civil lawsuit was made in the courtroom, and Ruane and Whitcomb refused to discuss the case with a reporter.
On the afternoon of on Aug 18, 2010, a car traveling northbound on Oenoke Ridge
Road struck a pedestrian, propelling the person 20 to 30 feet, according
to Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who helps manage the emergency operations
center in New Canaan.
The driver left nothing behind aside from a side-view mirror and other fragments of glass, New Canaan police said.
Police received a call at 4:41 p.m. from a driver on Oenoke Ridge Road who spotted the victim laying in the road. Less than two hours later, after a passerby noticed him and called for an ambulance, Krishna Jayaraman was dead in Norwalk Hospital.
Criminal charges, civil lawsuit filed
On Nov. 3, 2010, New Canaan Police arrested Regan on a warrant, charging her with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and evading responsibility involving a death with a motor vehicle. Regan was released after posting a $10,000 cash bond.
In the $2.5 million civil complaint, Regan is accused of driving her Infiniti QX56 at a
“fast rate of speed” on Oenoke Ridge Road (Rt. 124) while attempting to
change a DVD in her vehicle.
Her action resulted in her veering to the right and striking the elder Jayaraman while he was getting mail from his curbside mailbox, the complaint stated.
The complaint then alleges that Regan, 32 at the time, filed a false report with her car insurance company, claiming her passenger-side mirror was damaged while her car was parked at a location in New Canaan while she was running errands. It says she gave the same story to a New Canaan Police sergeant investigating the accident.