A jury convicted on Friday the Mt. Morris man who struck and killed a 3-year-old boy with his car last summer after driving into a crowded on Lyell Avenue in Rochester.
The Monroe County Court jury found 48-year-old Frank Cassata guilty of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter, DWI and leaving the scene of the attack, as well as three other counts.
Police say Cassata got into an argument with a group of people back in June. He then attempted to hit a man with whom he was arguing with his car, but instead he hit a woman and 3-year-old Amir Pallet, who was playing on his front porch. The woman suffered minor injuries.
Sophia Benitez cried outside of Monroe County Court after her little boy's murderer was convicted.
"Relieved, because I know he won't get out now," Benitez said. "I know it won't bring my son back but I know he doesn't get to see the [light of day] again."
Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles, who prosecuted the case, said many people came forward to build a factual case against Cassata.
"I think this crime pretty much shocked everyone who was on Lyell Avenue that day. It was just so sudden, so senseless," said Duckles. "At the end of the day, everyone wanted to do their part and tell what they saw."
For Benitez, who was told to remove a sweatshirt she wore to court that bore a picture of her late son, the trial's conclusion means she can go back to dealing with the nightmares her children have over the loss of their brother.
"They're never gonna get it, just like I'm never gonna get it," said Benitez. "I'm never gonna understand it. I'm never gonna be able to cope with it."
Cassata, who had already spent 11 years in prison on felony convictions, will be sentenced on March 7.