CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) Two men were sentenced in a Saratoga County Courtroom on Thursday on charges of Criminally Negligent Homicide.
In the early morning hours of August 25, 2017, Samuel Heroux and Isaiah DePiazza left 19-year-old Liam McGlinchey, who was highly intoxicated at the time, on the front lawn of his Grandmother’s Clifton Park home, where she found him dead.
Helen Savastio, McGlinchey’s mother, flew in from Ireland to be at the sentencing. It was her first time being face to face with the two men who she said, first urinated on her son before leaving him to die. She also learned that DePiazza was on probation at the time, so he didn’t want to call 911 for help because he thought he would get caught. “It’s just disgusting for a mother to have to hear that,” said Savastio.
In June Heroux took a plea deal. On Thursday Judge Murphy sentenced him to six months in Saratoga County Jail with five years probation. DePiazza also took a plea deal, but failed to cooperate with pre-trial agreements, so he was sentenced to 1-3 years in prison.
Savastio said the two had not apologized for what happened until now. “I think both kids need to realize that they’re not doing well in life at the moment. Do you want your parents to get that phone call? It’s a phone call nobody wants to get… ever,” said Savastio.
On that August night, all three guys went out to a party. McGlinchey became highly intoxicated and unable to walk. Rather than calling for help or ringing the doorbell, Heroux and DePiazza left him lying in the front yard, where his 91-year-old grandmother found him dead.
“That particular night he went out about 8:00 p.m. and said I’ll be home in an hour or two. I waited up for him. I thought well, they must be having a good time, so I went to bed around 10:00 p.m. and when I got up in the morning I look out to see where the paper is and I saw something. It turned out to be his leg,” said his grandmother, Ruth Savastio.
Liam’s mother said she has learned a number of disturbing details over the last two years as the case progressed. “They left Liam, then they were worried about him so they came back a second time and found him foaming at the mouth and they still didn’t do anything. They just left him there,” said Savastio. She went on to say that Heroux actually drove by the grandmother’s home the next day and saw the police activity, but still did not stop to provide information.
Toxicology reports revealed McGlinchey’s blood alcohol content at the time of his death was .40%.
“How can something spiral so out of control? I just hope other people who hear this just learn,” said Savastio.
During her victim impact statement, Liam’s mother asked the two men one last question:
“We’ve all been wondering for the past two years — what happened to my son’s glasses? He left the house with his glasses. He never came home with his glasses. Where did they go? Liam’s glasses were so much a part of Liam. We would have loved to have had them just to have them on a shelf next to his picture. Never got them back. We don’t know what happened to them,” said Savastio.
Heroux and McGlinchey had worked together for roughly five weeks at a local Hannaford warehouse. McGlinchey had just met DePiazza for the first time the night he died.
This is the victim impact statement submitted by Liam’s sister Charlotte:
“My name is Charlotte McGlinchey and I am Liam’s older sister. For 19 years, I had the natural instinct to always protect and care for both Liam and our younger brother, Leonardo. Despite any downfalls or struggles we may face, there was comfort in knowing we would always have each other. Leonardo sits with me as I write this statement, so I will try to combine our words and memories to bring Liam to life.
Firstly, I want to explain who Liam was and what kind of person died that night from negligence. Liam was known as a “gentle giant.” A teddy bear with empathy that radiated into all of his relationships. When he heard someone crying, he teared up with his own pain. Sorrow from others deeply hurt him and he would have done anything to cheer someone up. He loved to be in the presence of others, and he loved to make people feel valued. He cared for animals with his whole heart, stopping in the road to feed a stray cat or to help a scared dog. His exuberance lit up a room. When Liam arrived, everyone knew of his presence. He was the true embodiment of life — a loud laugh, bright smile, and curious eyes.
When I came home for Christmas, he would lift me up and spin me around any chance he could, just to hear me laugh with glee. He was remarkably intelligent and absolutely hilarious. His friends still stop to tell me jokes they remember him telling. Everyone always pauses at the end, saying, “sorry, I can’t imitate it properly, you just had to be there…” Liam’s words will always be remembered but his presence is something that is inexplicable.
Some of my favorite conversations with him were us questioning the world together; our purpose, fears, goals, and dreams for the future. One of his last messages to me was him writing out an imaginary daydream of us when we are in our fifties, laughing about our youth, the lessons we would learn, and what we would be like as moms and dads to our future children.
Liam’s friends have since messaged me with memories and gratitude for Liam’s life – saying that theirs was forever changed due to the impact he made, even before his death. Liam had a knack for seeing pain in others and knowing the best way to help them. One student whose name I will keep anonymous said, “Liam was the reason I ever made friends. He saw 4 of us sitting alone at lunch and banded us together. Thanks to him, I enjoyed high school. He saw our insecurities and never let anyone feel deserted or alone in this world.” He spent countless hours staying up until sunrise to speak to friends in different time zones, sacrificing his own sleep just to hear their voice. Liam told me that everyone has their own lesson to teach, and he yearned to learn as many as he could. He read books far beyond the level of most 19 year olds, discussing the themes, plot holes, and analyzing the perspective of the author to understand why he or she wanted to share this particular message. His intellect, thoughtfulness, and wit was beyond his years.
Leonardo treasures the memories of Liam coming into his room late at night to talk about everything, anything, and sometimes nothing at all. His company was a form of love, the way he would listen to understand, question to learn more, and speak to add perspective. Liam was so proud to be an older brother and always wanted Leonardo to feel protected, secure, and confident in himself. He would give Leo advice, trying to teach him from any mistakes he had learned from in the past. For Leonardo, Liam’s last words were on a skype call the night before he died. “I’m going out tonight to celebrate, I’ll talk to you tomorrow!” He always ended his conversations with a plan to connect later, so you knew you were special to him and he looked forward to talking to you again.
The last words I ever heard Liam speak were on a phone call as he was leaving work, "I have to bike home now, I'll talk to you later sis!" I said to him, "Okay, love you, be safe!" Yet little did I know I would never hear his voice again. I would never hear him say "I love you" or "goodnight" or "How are you sis, are you free to call?" I will never feel him hug me, he will never meet my future children, and no one will ever hear his contagious laugh again.
My father would play chess with him so often that Liam ended up winning tournaments in New York as a chess champion. They would discuss the bible and verses that inspired him. We used to dance in the living room at Christmas to his favorite songs that once brought me immense joy. Now every time I hear his music, I feel pain reverberating throughout my entire body. You ripped this person from me with no remorse. There was no apology, no guilt, and no shame shown to our family for taking something invaluable from us. You watched him drink, you watched him fall, and you carried him as he painfully struggled to breathe. At a blood alcohol percentage as high as his, I will explain to you what was happening in his body according to alcohol.org. At .15%, many have trouble walking and talking becomes difficult. A person might fall or not be able to stand upright. At .25%, emotional, physical, mental, and sensory processing functions are impaired. You might feel numb, and are at a high risk of choking on your own vomit. At .30%, the brain essentially begins to shut down. You might be unresponsive and there will be no recognition of the people or place around you. At .35%, some are at a level similar to surgical anesthesia. You are likely to pass out, and you might stop breathing. Seizures are likely to occur. Some might argue that not all people show these symptoms. However, Liam’s death proves that his organs did shut down, and his unconsciousness would have been visible. At .40%, which is the amount Liam rose to, you can fall into a coma or your heart and breathing will suddenly stop, causing sudden death.
You watched these symptoms escalate — he was moved, dragged, and touched as his breathing lessened and his organs slowly shut down. You did not help at .15%…..or .25%….or .30%. It only takes one person to call an ambulance, yet both of you stood by and chose to leave him on the ground. When I first saw his body in the funeral home, he was covered in marks and bruises. He was not just deserted, he was suffering. I am not allowed to mention details, but there was more to this incident than purely walking away. Your actions were vile, despicable, thoughtless and heartless. Imagine the pain your mother would feel if you left the house with a hug and never returned to her arms again.
Let me describe to you the day I found out my brother died. It was August 25th, 2017. 5 days before my 23rd birthday. At 9:27 AM, I received a phone call from my uncle. He asked if I was at home, and if I could sit down. My heart pounded as I braced for terrible news. Who could it be? Did something happen to my aunt? Does he need help? Never in my life would I have guessed that he would say my younger brother’s name. He said, “Liam. Liam died last night, grandma found him in the driveway. Surrounded by vomit. Alone.” I collapsed to the floor in horror. I have never felt agony like that before. When I remember this moment, my voice still breaks in pain. I kept crying out “No, there’s no way, I need to save him, he just needs help, he’s not dead, it can’t be real.” The pain was and still is unimaginable. I felt broken. I remember pleading with God, “Please, God, take me instead. Not Liam. Please. Not my younger brother. I’ll do anything.” God never answered me.
A week prior to his death, he called to excitedly tell me about life and his new job. He told me his plans for university, asking about my experience. Two weeks before he died, I was in Ireland with Leonardo and my parents, while Liam was in New York with my grandmother. We all agreed that it wasn’t the same without him, and that it felt like something was missing. Now it will always feel this way. Now we will never be a family again.
I tried for hours to call my mom and dad, frantically texting all of my Irish family members to see if anyone had heard from them. I was throwing up with nausea, knowing they were somewhere in Ireland with no idea that their son’s soul left this earth. My dad arrived home first. I had to call and utter words I never thought I would speak aloud. I cried out, “Daddy, he’s dead. Liam is dead.” I told him that I didn’t know details, I just knew he was found alone. He died alone. He suffered alone. Could no one have helped him? Did no one see him struggle?
Finally, Leonardo and my mom returned home. Somehow, someone had to deliver the news to a mother that her 19 year old son was gone. Someone had to deliver this horror. Her screamed ripped my heart into shreds. My friends were lying next to me at the time, holding me, crying with empathy listening to a mother’s heartbreaking wail. I can still hear her scream, her agony, her torture. I asked to speak to Leonardo. I cry saying how sorry I am, how much I love him and wish I could hug him. His voice cracks with pain and disbelief “Are you sure? There’s no hope? He is just….gone?” All I can say is, “I know, I know, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
I wake up every single morning with a flood of memories, trying to decipher what is real and what was just a nightmare. Reality is now a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I had to have a sleep study done in the hospital last year due to my nightmares and panic attacks that affected my breathing at night. Every time I lie down to sleep, my brain replays images of him dying, crying out for help in his brain but not having the ability to say the words aloud. The image of my poor 91-year-old grandmother, finding her grandson strewn across the ground as if he was garbage. Her door was unlocked that night, but no one ever tried to get him inside. I have to watch my parents age faster, with mental fogginess they never had before. I have to fear for their health as this loss wrecks their body. I have to watch my mother take medicine, knowing she struggles finding a reason to live. My hands shake when I go through childhood pictures. Often, Leonardo and I remember a funny moment we all shared, but now we can no longer laugh at it. We both go quiet, knowing the heartache is too raw and too painful to talk about. Tears silently stream down my face as I write this, knowing no words will make you feel what I feel, and nothing will change his fate.
I lost my brother and best friend that night. Every day you get to wake up, I hope you remember that Liam never did and never will again. Every time you inhale, I hope you feel the breaths Liam struggled to get out. Every step you take, I hope you remember Liam hitting the ground, leaving marks and bruises all over his face and body. Every word you speak, I hope you remember the cries my brother would have made if he had been conscious. Every loving touch you receive from a family member, I hope you feel the cold, lifeless hands I had to hold at his wake. Every time you see grass, I hope you remember my brother is forever surrounded by dirt in the ground, just like he was when you left him.
I have to live every day with these thoughts, carrying a guilt that ruptures any enjoyment in life, knowing Liam will never feel love, excitement, wonder, or anything ever again.
There is no price that can adequately pay for the sadness you have caused, but I hope your life is spent feeling the responsibility and heaviness of a loss that you senselessly let happen. I hope Liam’s death can be a catalyst for education on alcohol poisoning, and that no other family feels this suffering.
I hope you live and never forget his name, Liam McGlinchey, as I will never forget yours as the people who ripped my family apart and let my brother suffer and die.”