Victim impact statements at John Cole sentencing

John Cole at an earlier court appearance. John Cole at an earlier court appearance. | Photo: File / WNYT.

May 11, 2018 04:21 PM

Victim Impact Statement – Deanna Shapiro

My life as I knew it ended abruptly and without warning on March 11, 2017. 


It’s difficult to find words strong enough to explain the profound impact John’s actions had on my life.  If you can try to imagine being without the use of your arms and legs for a day, or a week, or even a month.  Then try to imagine it being a lifetime, with no forewarning and without reason.  I can no longer do anything for myself.  I can no longer hug my children or my husband, or anyone for that matter.  I can no longer bring my kids to doctor’s appointments, school concerts, or practices and games.  I can no longer care for myself without someone constantly with me to do all the things I’m physically unable to do.  All of the simple tasks we take for granted I’m now fully dependent on others for. 

Also, I can no longer work to give myself a purpose in life or support my family, ending a 28 year career in a field I truly enjoyed but requires the use of my arms and hands.  Instead, every day our life savings are being drained for my care and the things I need for what used to be normal daily routines.

Unlike John, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity of a jury trial, or an appeals process that allows me to return home regardless of what happens today.  Rather, John gave me a life sentence confined to this wheelchair, forever dependent on others for my most basic needs.  And even after seeing the direct results of his actions, John has not once, not ever, apologized to me for what he did to me or my family.  All because of a single senseless act that was 100% avoidable and completely unnecessary.  John and John alone is responsible for what happened that night.  And since he has refused to hold himself accountable, I now ask the court to do that for him.   

Victim Impact Statement – Zachary Shapiro (age 15)

The unfortunate events that occurred on March 11th, 2017 have come with many negative impacts.  It has come with physical and emotional pain for my mother, and emotional pain for myself along with my family.  Seeing my mother in a wheelchair is something my little brother and I never thought we’d have to see. 

Our childhood has been ruined because of a stupid and senseless act by John Cole.  Our family vacations would always include flying to different cities to go to amusement parks or beaches during school breaks, but due to John’s actions we can no longer enjoy these once fun times.  We can’t go to our families’ houses for holiday parties or family dinners anymore.  My mother spent her 50th birthday relearning how to breathe, swallow and talk. The sports we play aren’t even the same anymore.  I would always look up in the stands to see my mother before the play started, but she is no longer there.  She has missed many of the games and many plays we have made simply because is it too difficult for her to go or the fields cannot accommodate her.

John Cole was once a man I looked up to like a father, but a father wouldn’t put my mother in a wheelchair.  A father wouldn’t put my parent’s life at risk just to show off his car.  A father wouldn’t destroy my childhood or my brothers for absolutely no good reason.  A father wouldn’t refuse to accept responsibility for his actions.

Victim Impact Statement – Scott Shapiro

During the trial, I was asked if I ever made the statement “don’t worry about it” to John.  The question was asked with no context, and cited an alleged text message that did not exist nor was submitted as evidence.  I can assure you that in the context of my wife’s injuries, I in no way, shape or form ever told John to not worry about it.  And while it’s true that John continuously offered to do what he could to help me in the months following the crash, the sad reality was that there really wasn’t much he could do.  Except for one thing, and that was to accept responsibility and apologize to my wife for what he did to her.

John ended my family’s life as we knew it in a matter of seconds.  He took away the ability of my wife to care for herself or our children.  He ended her career and put mine in jeopardy.  The comfortably life I spent 28 years building for my family, the future we all looked forward to, was all taken away from us in what can only be described as a senseless and unnecessary act.

And even knowing the results of an inadmissible blood test, even seeing in graphic detail the direct results of his actions, even knowing the indisputable evidence from the black box confirming these actions without once, ever, hitting the brakes, he has continuously refused to accept responsibility.  And regardless of today’s sentence, John gets to walk out of the same door he came in.  I, on the other hand, will be rolling my wife out that same door, rolling her to our wheelchair van, and rolling her home to spend the rest of the day caring for her, since that’s what our lives have become. 

So all I can say is, John, drop the appeal.  Acknowledge your actions.  Take responsibility for what you and you alone did.  Accept your sentence so we can all return to our lives.  Most of all, give Dee the apology that any decent human being would have given her 426 days ago.  And remember, you can lie to yourself about what happened, you can continue to lie to your friends, but you can’t lie to God.


WNYT Staff

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