Keene woman pleads guilty in hit-and-run that killed cyclist
By MEGHAN PIERCE Sunday News Correspondent
KEENE - The woman accused of being the driver who caused a fatal hit-and-run crash on Route 101 on Nov. 2 pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and conduct after an accident in Cheshire County Superior Court on Friday afternoon.
Tracey A. Burroughs, 41, of Keene was sentenced to three to six years in state prison on the class A felony negligent homicide conviction and was given a suspended sentence of 3½ to seven years in state prison on the class B felony conduct after an accident charge. The suspended sentence is contingent on her good behavior and could be enforced anytime over the next 10 years.
Judge John Kissinger also ordered her to pay restitution of $10,778 to the victim's family. He also revoked her driver's license indefinitely.
Burroughs maintained in court Friday that she has no memory of the accident that killed her friend, boss and former boyfriend, cyclist Keon E. Ioannou, 48, of Keene about 1:50 a.m. Nov. 2.Ioannou was the chef and owner of Tony Clamato's Ristorante on Court Street, where Burroughs was a waitress.
He was riding his bicycle home when the hit-and-run took place. He suffered traumatic blunt force trauma, including a broken leg, a skull fracture and damage to his brain.
Family members wept in court when Assistant Cheshire County Attorney John Webb described Ioannou's injuries. An autopsy showed Ioannou died of multiple blunt impact injuries, including basal skull fractures with transacted brain stem, Webb said.
Burroughs, her two children and her mother lived with Ioannou in a home owned by his mother at 878 Marlboro Road. They had been in a relationship in the past, but had been just friends for some time.
Before the sentencing, Burroughs told Kissinger she knows now she was drinking too much and too often and drove drunk that night. She said she was ready to accept responsibility for her friend's death.
Burroughs read a letter she wrote to Ioannou, in which she said, "You were one of the greatest loves of my life.""Dear Keon, I miss you, I miss us. I miss our days and nights together. I miss our lives like a film I play over and over," Burroughs said. "Our story was not supposed to end like this. Because of me and the poor choice I made, our story has ended. I'm so sorry Keon. I pray daily you know how sorry I am. Driving drunk was your death Keon. I know that and I own that."
Burroughs also spoke directly to Ioannou's family. "You are suffering because of my careless actions," she said. "I want you all to have peace, and I will never be able to tell you enough how sorry I am."
According to a witness who had been at the restaurant that night and early morning, Ioannou had left around 1:15 a.m. on his bicycle, while Burroughs left in a white 2002 Saturn owned by Ioannou around 1:30 a.m.In a police interview after the accident, Burroughs had told police Ioannou rode his
bicycle home from the restaurant every night. "Of any driver on the road that night that should have been aware there was a cyclist on the road it was Ms. Burroughs," Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Keith Clouatre said.Pieces of the Saturn that Burroughs had driven that night were discovered at the scene where Ioannou was found dead. The Saturn also had front-end and windshield damage consistent with the accident, prosecutors said.
Public defender Matthew Hill said Burroughs was "black-out" drunk and that the accident was "a tragic happenstance."
"She has no memory. She is absolutely certain that her actions are the cause of the death of Keon. The suggestion that she has not accepted responsibility is not accurate. Upon reviewing all of the evidence she is absolutely certain she is responsible and accepts and admits that," Hill said.
The victim's mother, Margaret Ioannou, his two brothers, Steve and Leo Ioannou, and Leo's girlfriend, Erica McRitchie, made victim impact statements.
The family members were told the day before the hearing to talk about how Ioannou's death affected them without talking about Burroughs, Leo Ioannou said. But her irresponsible actions are tied to his death and their suffering, he said.
"I sat across the table from this woman many times at my mom's dining room table. We shared holiday meals. I spoke to her. We baby-sit her son for her, and this is how we get repaid. This has been absolutely heartbreaking and sickening," he said. "We're in so much pain, we don't know what will heal our hearts."
Burroughs can say she was drunk and has no memory, Leo Ioannou said, but "Driving drunk is no accident; it's intentional."
Leo Ioannou said since his brother's death, he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Julie Short from victim's services at the Cheshire County Attorney's Office read Margaret Ioannou's statement. "Our hearts are broken and will never mend. . My son died alone by the side of the road. . It sickens me every day to think about this. A life was taken, the precious life of our family member. He was hit by someone who lived in his home and left by the side of the road. The driver stole it all away from us and never looked back."
The family members asked Kissinger to enforce the maximum sentence.The spiritual director at the Cheshire County House of Corrections, Deacon Arnold Gustafson, and Burroughs' mother also entered statements and asked for leniency. Burroughs' mother said Ioannou and her daughter were best friends and that he would not have wanted her in jail and separated from her children.
When Kissinger handed down the sentences, he said he doesn't believe Burroughs had intended to kill Ioannou. "I do believe his death was a product of choices made by you," he said.