By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A Gristedes van driver was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on Monday for killing a pregnant woman while driving drunk.
Ysemny Ramos, 29, was three months pregnant when she was hit and killed by Keston Brown on Mar. 27, 2009, her wedding anniversary. Her grieving husband sobbed throughout Monday's proceedings and family members begged the judge to give her killer the harshest sentence possible. The sentence Brown received is the maximum punishment the law allows.
That day "was always supposed to be a great day — a happy day," Ramos' husband, Raynaldo Ramos, told the court. "It turned into the worst day of my life."
"Her loss is beyond any emotion I can put into words. She is everything," Ramos added. "I feel I have lost more of myself than what remains."
Brown, 29, was convicted in December of plowing into Ramos and her friend and coworker, Tassia Katsiambanis, 37, on East 37th Street near Fifth Avenue. A Manhattan jury found Brown guilty of manslaughter, assault and driving while intoxicated on Dec. 8.
Brown had spent the afternoon drinking in a bar before he got behind the wheel of the grocery's 1989 Ford cargo van and drove it onto the sidewalk.
The crash severed Ramos' body, while Katsiambanis survived with injuries.
The women had worked together at the nearby Israel Berger & Associates architecture firm and were walking home together when they were hit.
Brown admitted at trial he had several beers and a shot of Hennessy before taking the wheel, but denied he was drunk.
But the evidence showed his blood alcohol level was .18 percent, more than twice the New York State legal driving limit of .08 percent.
Ramos' younger sister said at sentencing that Brown had never shown remorse for what he'd taken from her family, and said his demeanor at trial belied his claims that he was a devoted family man.
"To see her killer take the stand and laugh and smirk in my family's face without any remorse and never admitting his wrongs was all I needed as proof that he wasn't all the things his family claimed he was," said Ramos' sister, Rosalie Rodriguez.
In a prepared statement, Katsiambanis said her life was forever changed by "survivor's guilt" and the loss of her close friend.
"I was always happy and outgoing and you've turned me into a woman who is depressed an [who] cries sometimes for no reason," said the statement, which was read aloud in court by prosecutors.
Before sentencing Brown to the maximum prison sentence, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gregory Carro chastised him for his poor decision to take the wheel after drinking.
"This may be tragic for your family but it was your doing," Carro told Brown, as his wife and other family members broke down in tears.
When given the chance to speak, Brown apologized to the victim's family and asked for forgiveness.
"I beat myself up every day. I wish I could turn back the hands of time," Brown said.
Brown was sentenced to 15 years behind bars but could qualify for early release after 7 years in prison.