Posted at: 08/03/2012 12:33 PM
| Updated at: 08/03/2012 5:19 PM
By: Mark Mulholland
BALLSTON SPA - She was just 17-years old. Pretty, funny and smart.
Noelle Johnsen was the apple of her mother's eye.
"She had a heart of gold. She wanted to be everybody's friend and she was. And she was my angel," Melody Scaia, Johnsen's mother.
Noelle was killed January 7th. She was a passenger in a truck driven by her friend.
18-year-old Brian Vecchio. Vecchio was driving 98-miles per hour on Barkersville Road in Providence, passing another car in a no-passing zone when he lost control and hit a utility pole. Noelle Johnson was killed.
The Ballston Spa man pled guilty in May to criminally negligent homicide.
Before he was sentenced Friday morning, Noelle's mother scolded Vecchio for making a bad choice. A choice that took her daughter's life.
Then when she stepped down from the witness stand, she hugged Brian Vecchio.
Because if it was my son, I would want him to be safe. And I just felt like a mother and I just wanted to protect him," said Scaia. " told him to keep his chin up and I'd be here for him if he needed to talk to me and that I know that he was sorry and I was sorry."
Scaia says she knows her daughter would be proud of her for forgiving Vecchio.
"She did not want me to hold a grudge against him. I know that she's looking down on me and saying, 'Thanks, Mom. He was my friend.
When given the opportunity to speak in court, Brian Vecchio said he accepts full responsibility. Then he turned to Noelle's family and said, 'I'm sincerely sorry.'"
The judge denied Vecchio's request to be treated as a youthful offender and sentenced him to one and a third to four years in state prison.
"I think that's plenty of time so he'll be able to enjoy his life when he gets out. I think that's fair, even though Noelle didn't enjoy hers," Scaia said.
District Attorney James Murphy commended the sentence for holding Vecchio responsible. There was no evidence that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.