Angela Galloway didn’t hold back.
“May 28, 2017, is and will forever be the worst day of my life,” she said as she started to speak Friday morning in a small Summit County courtroom in Akron.
That was the date her 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, and friend Amber Thoma, also 14, were struck and killed by a car driven by Natasha Boggs, a 25-year-old New Franklin resident, as they and two male teen friends walked on the side of a road in Coventry Township. One boy was severely injured, while the other escaped injury.
Boggs was driving her young son, who was in the back seat, to get ice cream. Police and prosecutors allege she was texting while driving and her car veered to the side, crossed a lane marker and struck the teens. That stretch of South Main Street in Coventry Township does not have sidewalks.
“Natasha robbed my daughter of the life she should have had,” Galloway told Common Pleas Judge Paul Gallagher before the judge sentenced Boggs. Now, she said, she can only see her daughter in photographs and video, not in person.
“When I call her name, she doesn’t answer,” Galloway said. “I will never see Taylor grow up. No prom or graduation, falling in love for the first time or a family of her own.”
Boggs, shackled and in prison garb, sat crying nearby in the courtroom, her head down with her face hidden behind her long hair. Many of the 40 or so others who filled the courtroom also cried as the Galloway family urged Judge Paul Gallagher to give Boggs the maximum sentence the law allowed, nine years in prison. The family and others wore T-shirts bearing a photograph of Taylor.
“Now I’m forced to live a life without my daughter,” Galloway said. “Because of the choice Natasha made for us. ... Taylor’s sentence is forever.”
She called Boggs selfish, saying as her daughter and friends lay on the ground Boggs was “thinking only of herself at the moment and deleting texts from her phone.”
Galloway noted that Boggs was crying.
“Those tears are not for Taylor. They are tears for Natasha and loss of freedom,” Galloway said. “We are facing life alone and she gets maybe nine years. Where’s the justice in that? ... I don’t think nine years is too much to ask for the lives of two beautiful girls.”
Taylor’s father, Edward, also called May 28 the worst day in his life.
“Every day has been a struggle,” he said.
Taylor’s older sister, Allisa, told the judge that she lost a best friend.
“I’ll never have her at my wedding,” she said. “She did so much with her 14 years of life.”
The Galloways were the only family members who spoke in the courtroom.
Prosecutor Joseph Dangelo said Boggs’ history suggested that she just “muddled through life” and didn’t take responsibility for her actions.
Defense attorney Daniel Funk said Boggs is a single mother who worked two minimum-wage jobs. He noted that Boggs was not speeding, drunk or otherwise impaired at the time of the crash.
“This is a tragedy for all,” he said. “This is an accident. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is awful.”
Then Boggs stood up and turned, crying and in a shaking voice, to address family members.
“I just want to say I’m truly sorry. I never meant for anything to happen,” she said. “I can’t forgive myself. I’m truly sorry.”
Judge Gallagher, speaking quietly, sentenced Boggs to a total of six years in prison, with the 11 months she has already spent in jail counting toward the total. The prosecutor’s office had recommended Boggs be imprisoned a maximum of six years.
As part of a deal reached to avoid a trial, Boggs, who also uses the last name Roberson, pleaded guilty in late March to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of vehicular homicide and one count of attempted tampering with evidence, all felonies.
Charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, negligent assault, rules for driving in marked lanes, and texting while driving, were dismissed at that time. Boggs’ defense attorneys have disputed that she was texting or otherwise using her phone at the time of the crash.
Boggs will be placed in what is called post-release control, similar to parole, for three years after leaving prison. A violation of terms during those three years means a return to prison. She also will have her driver’s license suspended for five years.
Reporter Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ
New Franklin woman who killed 2 teen girls in distracted driver crash gets 6 years in prison
Angela Galloway didn’t hold back.