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The man held responsible for the brutal incident that killed Emergency Medical Technician Yadira Arroyo six years ago was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday following a nearly monthlong jury trial.
Jose Gonzalez was accused of having carjacked Arroyo’s ambulance on March 16, 2017 in the Bronx and twice running her over and killing the 44-year-old mother of five. Gonzalez, 31, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5. He faces the possibility of life in prison.
Gonzalez, diagnosed as schizophrenic, had been found fit to stand trial only in September following protracted challenges and counter-challenges by defense lawyers and prosecutors from Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office.
“The road to justice for Yadi was tortuous; this case was delayed because of numerous hearings regarding the defendant’s fitness to stand trial, but her family and FDNY colleagues were patient and steadfast from the beginning until today’s verdict,” Clark said in a statement.
Prosecutors said that Gonzalez, who lived in the Bronx’s Fordham Heights neighborhood, had been joy-riding on the back of Arroyo’s rig while it traveled through the Soundview neighborhood and jumped off near the intersection of Watson Avenue and White Plains Road.
Flagged by a passerby whose backpack Gonzalez tried to steal, Arroyo and her partner, Monique Williams, intervened and Arroyo, a 14-year EMT, and Gonzalez struggled briefly before the then-25-year-old man jumped into the ambulance and twice ran over Arroyo, killing her, before jumping a curb and hitting a parked car. He was apprehended by a passing MTA police officer with the help of passerby.
Gonzalez later tested positive for PCP and marijuana. At the time of the incident, he was said to be living in a homeless shelter and had accumulated 31 arrests, including for robbery.
“This case has dragged on for nearly six long years, but finally we can breathe knowing that justice for our EMT sister, Yadira Arroyo, has been served,” Oren Barzilay, the president of FDNY EMS Local 2507, which represents EMTs and paramedics. “The outcry of support and love for her family has been massive and at last, they can rest.”
The legal process has been marked by dueling testimony from psychiatrists, Gonzalez’s bid to serve as part of his own defense, as well as his erratic behavior. In 2019, a court hearing ended abruptly after Gonzalez became enraged when his attorney suggested he plead guilty.
“I thank the witnesses, who saw Yadi in her final moments, for their testimonies during the trial. Yadi lives on in the legacy of her children, and in the countless New Yorkers she assisted in their time of need,” Clark said.
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