By Jessica Moore | April 26, 2023
NEW YORK — Jose Gonzalez, the man convicted of murdering FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole.
Gonzalez stole Arroyo’s ambulance and then ran her over multiple times back in 2017 in the Soundview section of the Bronx.
“Today’s sentence brings some closure after waiting six long years,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said.
CBS2 was inside the courtroom Wednesday as it filled with applause when the judge handed down the maximum sentence. The family wore purple in honor of Arroyo’s nickname, Lila, which means lavender in Spanish.
Arroyo’s loved ones say it has been a heartbreaking time since her death, but she would be happy the city she died protecting finally brought her killer to justice.
“I feel happy. I feel happy,” said Leida Acevedo, Arroyo’s mother.
“Even though we got justice today and he will be in jail for life, nothing will bring her back,” cousin Vanessa Hernandez added.
Nearly 100 first responders filled the courtroom in support of the family, including her partner, Monique Williams, who testified during the trial.
Gonzalez was initially declared unfit to stand trial, but that decision was reversed last year.
The emotional trial lasted nearly a month, but it took the jury only hours to find him guilty of first-degree murder in March.
“Let the message be loud and clear that fire department/EMS blood is not cheap,” union president Oren Barzilay said.
Arroyo was a 14-year veteran of the FDNY and mother of five.
Her aunt and two former partners gave victim impact statements at Wednesday’s sentencing.
Chaz Perry called Arroyo a brightness amid the darkness, and Williams, who was with Arroyo when she died, said she still blames herself for her death.
Arroyo’s aunt, Ali Acevedo-Hernandez, wept as she spoke directly to Gonzalez, asking him, “How do you tell a 7-year-old his mommy is never coming home?” She said Arroyo was a struggling mother working an overtime shift to make ends meet. She added, “I wish I could hate you, but I cannot, because that would keep you in my heart.”
Her aunt also addressed the media outside the courtroom after the sentencing, holding up a pair of handcuffs.
“These here are the cuffs that held his hands — the hands that killed Yadi. And they say, ‘In Memory of FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo.’ It means a lot to us,” she said. “We’re going to pick up the pieces of our broken heart and remember her life her legacy. We’re going to remember Yadi for the person she was, and not how she died.”
Gonzalez, for the first time, apologized to the Arroyo family in court, but he continued to call it a tragic accident. He was found to be high on PCP when he killed her.
His defense has already said it plans to appeal his conviction.