The eighth floor of the Suffolk Superior Court was in chaos yesterday afternoon as anxious friends and relatives waited to learn the fate of of the driver who killed one man and injured two Northeastern students and a police officer during a riotous 2004 Super Bowl celebration.
Stanley Filoma, who drove his car through a crowd near Symphony Road, was found guilty of manslaughter, homicide with a motor vehicle, and assault and battery last Friday for driving his SUV while under the influence of alcohol and hitting and killing 21-year-old James Grabowski on Symphony Road. He was sentenced yesterday to six to eight years in prison. The sentencing brings to a close more than two years of unfinished business following the Feb. 1, 2004, incident.
Grabowski was visiting his younger brother, David, who was a Northeastern freshman at the time.
His father, Daniel, a state police captain, attended Northeastern in the 1970s and was captain of the Northeastern football team in 1972. His mother, Patricia, addressed Filoma in the courtroom yesterday.
“You represent the opposite of everything Jamie stood for in life,” she said to Filoma. Grabowski was an accomplished wrestler at St. John’s Preparatory School. He worked hard to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer like his dad, his mother said.
“[Jamie will] never become an uncle, husband or father; you took those away from him,” she said to Filoma. “You silenced his laughter.”
Filoma broke down and collapsed over the table sobbing when his friend of 18 years, Stanley Estime, and his sister, Yannick Filoma, spoke in his defense.
“Stanley is not a monster that they’re painting in the media,” said his sister when she took the stand. “[He is] a very loving person.”
Estime begged the judge for leniency and said Filoma was “not a malicious person” and was “deeply sorry” for what had happened.
“This is a tragic accident and I feel the judge could have been more lenient,” Estime said after the sentence.
He said the six to eight years in prison would be “like a death sentence” to Filoma, who had been free for the past two years on a $35,000 bail.
The accident on Feb. 1, 2004, caused severe head injuries to Jason Stackiewicz, now a senior criminal justice major, who was in a coma for 18 days.
Stackiewicz, who was a middler at the time, told the court what it was like waking up from his coma and having to start over.
He said his transition back to school at Northeastern was not easy. Stackiewicz said he was on the verge of depression and did not do well in his studies, initially forcing him to reduce his courseload.
Stackiewicz’s father, Thomas, also addressed the court. He emotionally retold his experience of waiting while his son was in a coma at Beth Israel Hospital.
“We waited for him to die,” said his father, explaining that doctors told him his son would never come back and breaking into tears at one point during his testimony.
Northeastern alumnus Joshua Bersey, who was a 21-year-old student at the time, was hospitalized for three days after the accident with head injuries. Current student Thomas Pasquale suffered a leg injury and Lucas Barosky, who was 22 years old at the time, also suffered a leg injury.
After the sentencing, Filoma’s defense attorney, Bruce Namenson, said he was disappointed with the sentence.
“I think the judge went outside the guidelines on this case,” Namenson said, calling the jury’s verdict “inconsistent” with the facts of the case.
The court guidelines for manslaughter is a sentence between 40 to 60 months, he said, and the defense asked for a two-and-a-half-year split sentence in a house of correction. The prosecution asked for a 12-to-15 year sentence.
Filoma will serve his sentence in state prison in Cedar Junction, followed by four years of probation.
Editors’ note: A previous version of this article incorrectly described Joshua Bersey’s education.