Unique process leads to suspended sentence in hit-and-run

Families of suspect, victim meet to reach settlement


A man who crashed into a person on the side of a New Hampshire highway who was helping victims of a car crash was given a suspended sentence Wednesday after taking part in a restorative justice process.

The judge, prosecution and defense said the resolution of the case is unlike anything they have seen before, but it's the way the justice system should work.

Jose Cruz Vasquez with reckless conduct and conduct after an accident after he hit Mark Shamaly, 59, in April on the Everett Turnpike.

"Jose made a bad decision in April of last year, but he understands that was a bad decision," said prosecutor Charlie DeJoie.

Shamaly was hit in the breakdown lane and suffered life-threatening injuries while he was helping victims of a car accident. Cruz Vasquez drove away from the scene.

Shamaly wasn't able to be in court Wednesday because he was in surgery for injuries related to the crash. A statement from him was read in court.

"I'm so sorry we had to meet this way, and you and your wife seem like very kind people," said victim's advocate Meghan Rozanski, reading Shamaly's statement. "We wish the best for you and pray your new year will be much kinder."

Court officials said the Cruz Vazquez and Shamaly families met in a process known as restorative justice to try to reach a settlement outside of the normal criminal trial process.

"He could demonstrate to them that he really is a good guy, and he just made a really bad decision," said defense attorney Adam Bernstein.

The session lasted about an hour and allowed Shamaly and his wife to sit down and talk about what happened with Cruz Vasquez and his wife. They were able to talk about how the crash has affected their families.

The process received praise from all parties and was called a model for how such cases should be handled.

"I think it's helping MS heal. I think it's giving MS closure," Bernstein said. "I think it also allows MS to see that all people who are charged with crimes aren't necessarily bad people."

Judge Charles Temple suspended Cruz Vasquez's sentence. He will be on probation for three years.

"Justice has been done in this courtroom today," Temple said.https://www.wmur.com/article/hit-and-run-sentence-restorative-justice/42399541