Danielle Mastro, 35, reads a statement with her attorneys Alison King and James Corbo, at Brockton Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. She was found guilty of motor vehicle manslaughter. (Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise)
Pembroke’s Danielle Mastro, who told police she was drunk and dope sick when she got in her car, was convicted on Friday of manslaughter while operating under the influence.
BROCKTON — Danielle Mastro, 35, of Pembroke, received a sentence of 10 to 13 years in prison followed by a year in county jail on Friday for her role in a 2017 fatal car crash.
Brockton Superior Court Judge Angel Kelly handed down both the verdict and the sentence in a trial where Mastro waived her right to a jury. Kelly found Mastro guilty of manslaughter while operating under the influence.
The crash in question claimed the life of Deborah Combra, a 58-year-old Bridgewater woman who was turning into her office’s parking lot when Mastro rear-ended her SUV in October 2017, sending it into the path of a dump truck approaching in the opposite lane, according to witness testimony.
The ensuing head-on collision ejected Combra from the car and killed her. A passenger traveling with Combra survived with a broken leg.
Witnesses testified that Mastro walked away from the scene on Brockton’s Quincy Street while nurses and doctors from a nearby health center rushed to treat the crash’s other victims.
Mastro later told police she initially thought the crash was a fender bender. She’d left the crash scene in a rush to buy heroin, which had been her goal since the morning, she told police, when she stole her mother’s car and evaded a police chase in Hanson on the way to meet her dealer. Mastro also told police she’d drunk six nip bottles of Vodka between 10 a.m. and the time of the crash — an admission later supported by toxicology tests.
Combra’s family and the passenger who broke her leg read victim impact statements on Friday. Tears mixed with seething anger as those close with Combra spoke of their loss.
“Miss Mastro can go to the phone and call and talk with any member of her family but I, on the other hand, I can only go to the grave to talk to a gravestone where Deb is buried and not have her respond to any questions,” said Manny Combra, Deborah’s widowed husband, in a statement read aloud by Russell Eonas, the case’s lead prosecutor.
Manny Combra weeped in the back of the courtroom while listening to his statement.
Deborah Combra’s sisters read tearful impact statements, both of which called for steep sentences for Mastro.
“I will have to render the sentence and that won’t fill the void,” Judge Kelly responded. “I know that and I want you to know that. But I see you all and I hear you and I will take that into consideration when I make a decision.”
Mastro broke into tears as Combra’s sisters described the family milestones that Combra missed after her death, including the marriage of Combra’s youngest son and the birth of her older son’s first child.
Mastro offered an apology of her own when Combra’s friends and relatives were done speaking.
“I think about all of the families who miss Deborah,” Mastro said. “I think about them on holidays. I think about them when I miss my own family.”
“There are no words that will make what I’ve done OK,” she continued. “I know that sorry doesn’t mean much but I am truly sorry.”
Mastro’s attorneys, James Corbo and Allison King, shared a brief biography of their client before sentencing. Mastro had been using opioids since high school, Corbo said, but her habit escalated after transitioning to heroin while a student at Bridgewater State College.
Mastro beat her addiction for five years, maintaining sobriety in her mid-20s while working at her father’s hardware store in Brockton, Corbo said. She later became a manager at Pet Smart.
Around her 30th birthday, Mastro underwent surgery and relapsed into addiction after taking opiates that were prescribed to her for pain relief.
“She said it’s been a ‘s— show’ ever since, in terms of her relapse,” Corbo said, quoting a conversation they had during a jail visit.
Since the fatal car crash in October 2017, Mastro has spent two years in custody awaiting trial. Her parents chose not to post bail, Corbo said.
Mastro’s attorneys said she has received only two infractions in jail — for giving money to a fellow prisoner for commissary and for using an iron to straighten her hair before trial.
Mastro’s immediate family and a handful of close family friends attended the trial.
Kelly spoke directly to Mastro before she imposed a sentence longer than the minimum of five years.
“You are more than the worst thing you’ve ever done,” Kelly said. “So remember that going forward.”
After the sentence was handed down, Manny Combra thanked the judge and prosecutors but said the end of the trial hardly brought relief.
“I’m kind of satisfied but it’s still not enough,” he said. “My wife’s never going to come back.” https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20191012/woman-sentenced-to-10-13-years-in-prison-for-role-in-fatal-brockton-crash