Niagara Gazette

Courts

March 14, 2013

Falls man gets 4 to 12 years in prison for fatal DWI crash

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — The motorcyclist who killed two women while driving drunk in November was sentenced Thursday in a Erie County courtroom to a term of 4 to 12 years in prison after a hearing that was packed with the victims' emotional family members. 

David A. Smith, 53, of Niagara Falls, who has six previous drinking and driving convictions, addressed the court as well.

Smith veered off Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst on the afternoon of Nov. 11, and killed Sheila Pelton, 81, of East Amherst, and Jocelyn Elberson, 25, of Tonawanda.

Sheila Pelton's husband, Foster, was also seriously injured and entered the courtroom in a wheelchair Thursday. 

Five of the victims' family members spoke Thursday while choking back tears and at times openly weeping. 

"My grandparents had been walking on a harmless bike path, and their lives were shattered," Natalie Pelton, the Peltons' granddaughter said. "The justice served today will ensure other families do not bear the same catastrophe."

Elberson's mother, Kathy, spoke about her daughter and her struggle with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that is characterized by medical problems and learning disabilities. Elberson just had open heart surgery in January 2012, not a year prior to her death. 

"The surgeon told us that we might lose her," Kathy Elberson said. 

But Elberson pulled through, and by the time the accident occurred, she was recovering.

"All was going so well, and we thought the worse was behind us. But then, David Smith came along," Kathy Elberson said. 

Smith kept his head down during the families' statements, and did not face the speakers when they spoke directly to him. But when it was Smith's chance to speak, he cried throughout his apology. 

"This is all my fault. I'm not blaming anybody but myself," Smith said. "I would like to personally apologize ... I can't tell you how much I regret drinking that day. I am ready for whatever sentence the court thinks is right." 

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