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Woman's conviction in fatal crash brings mother satisfaction, not happiness

NEW PORT RICHEY — Marietta Cetrangolo sat quietly in the courtroom, by herself.

She brought several pieces of memorabilia of her daughter, including a poster-size picture. But she had to keep it out of sight, so as not to sway the jury as it considered the cold facts, things like blood-alcohol levels and accident reconstruction.

Nicole Marie Cetrangolo, 37, had been on the back of the motorcycle — no helmet, just the warm Florida breeze all around her.

She was the body that went flying through the dark when the bike struck a sport utility vehicle on U.S. 19.

She was the one who died in the road.

But during three days of testimony, nothing much was said about Nicole, save for the gruesome details of how she died.

The focus was on the 55-year-old woman who struck her. And after the jury convicted Deborah Terrero on Thursday of getting drunk and causing the wreck, Marietta Cetrangolo finally was able to say how her daughter had lived.

She grew up in Vermont and went to college there, earning a business degree.

She thought about law school but became interested in trauma research, and that led to a career in counseling.

She was working on a book about people rebuilding their lives when she died.

She was an avid photographer who entered her pictures in local exhibits. She sent care packages and letters to troops overseas.

"I'm grateful for every day that I had with her, and I will miss her for the rest of my days," said Marietta Cetrangolo, who lives in New Port Richey. "I had looked forward to seeing her walk down the aisle and bear children someday.

"But that was not to be."

She was satisfied with the verdict, but not happy. Not for herself or Terrero's family.

"They have been devastated also," she said.

Terrero was working as a substitute teacher in upstate New York when arrested several months after the April 5, 2009, accident. The jury convicted her of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and DUI with serious bodily injury.

Ken Dillon, Cetrangolo's friend who was driving the 2007 Triumph cruising motorcycle, suffered a broken pelvis and ruptured bladder in the crash.

Prosecutors said Terrero had a 0.062 blood-alcohol level that night, as well as methadone and Xanax in her system. A bartender testified that she was nodding off after drinking two beers. She was heading home about 2 a.m. when the crash happened.

Terrero will face up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced in July.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Woman's conviction in fatal crash brings mother satisfaction, not happiness 05/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 8:45pm]
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