A Kenmore teenager was sentenced Thursday to weekends in jail for six months and must also spend five years on probation for deliberately running over a Kenmore West High School classmate last spring in a dispute over remarks posted on Twitter and Facebook about the school’s upcoming prom.
Liana Nieves, 18, of Crosby Avenue, will spend weekends in the Erie County Correctional Facility starting Friday for twice running over Madeline Silvia, 18, of the Town of Tonawanda, at about 10 p.m. April 26 on Chaplin Drive in the town.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III has characterized the assault as a “Twitter tantrum turned tragic.”
Silvia had gone to Chaplin Drive to visit a friend when Nieves pulled up in a sport utility vehicle and ran over her. The attack culminated a dispute about comments and taunts on social media concerning the prom, prosecutors said. Silvia suffered severe internal and pelvic injuries.
Silvia told the judge that she went to talk with Nieves in front of her friend’s house but that Nieves ran over her and left her in the street.
“I wish Liana could live a day in my life and see how it has changed,” she told State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski.
She cried during her victim-impact statement as she described a life of pain, nightmares and anxiety.
Kathleen Silvia said the encounter has drastically changed her daughter’s life and affected the family.
“Nothing prepares you for seeing your daughter in a hospital bed” with serious injuries, she told Michalski.
“To hit and run over someone with an SUV and then drive off, leaving her there in the street, is unthinkable and unforgivable,” the mother said.
As a result, her daughter was unable to attend classes and had to leave the prom early, she said. She also has been unable to attend college.
William Silvia told the judge that his daughter remains in constant pain, and has trouble eating and sleeping. “She is a mere shell of what she once was,” he said.
He said she faces a long road to recovery, and he urged the judge to punish Nieves and not grant her youthful-offender status.
Nieves apologized to Madeline Silvia and her family. “I wish I could turn the clock back, but I can’t,” she said.
She then read a prayer that she said she and her family recite every night for Silvia and her recovery.
She also apologized to her mother and father. “I let them down,” she said amid tears.
Nieves pleaded guilty in July to first-degree assault, a felony that carries a maximum prison term of 25 years, according to Assistant District Attorney Christopher M. McCarthy, who prosecuted the case.
Although a prison term was an option, Michalski said he didn’t think it was appropriate because she wouldn’t receive the treatment she needs to control anger and impulsiveness.
“Hopefully you will respond to the treatment and conditions of probation,” he said. “If you violate any of the conditions, prison would be a significant option.”
Given the injuries and trauma that Silvia suffered, the judge said Nieves should serve weekends in jail for the first six months of her probation.
The judge granted Nieves youthful-offender status, which means that if she completes probation and meets all the conditions, her felony conviction record will be sealed.
Nieves qualified for the status because she was 17 at the time of the attack, which occurred two days before her 18th birthday.
Michalski ordered her to write a letter of apology to the Silvia family, undergo an evaluation for substance abuse and mental health, and follow any treatment that is recommended.
He imposed a curfew of 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and ordered her to do 250 hours of community service and work at a job or attend school while she is on probation.