YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Judges are almost all-powerful, but Mahoning County Judge Anthony Donofrio told a woman he was sentencing Tuesday that he was almost powerless when it came to punishing her.
The judge told Ka’Nosha Bason, 26, of Warren, that nothing he can do to her can erase the guilt and pain she has to deal with every day after causing the Feb. 23, 2018 accident on the State Route 711 connector that killed her children, Nia’laisha Bason, 5, Nore’yion Bason, 7; and her brother, Cedrick Lyons, 32.
Judge Donofrio sentenced Bason to seven years in prison on three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and a misdemeanor count of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He added that it pales in comparison to what Bason has to live with.
“Anything I do is not going to equal the pain you’re going through right now and the pain you will go through for the rest of your life,” Judge Donofrio told her.
Authorities said she was under the influence of marijuana and cocaine when she drove the wrong way and slammed head-on into a semi.
The semi driver was not hurt.
Her lawyer, John Juhasz, said he understood his client would probably get some prison time, but he urged the judge to give her a sentence so she can continue treatment and counseling for her substance abuse and the weight of causing the deaths of her children and brother.
Juhasz said Bason was giving a ride to someone the morning of the accident and was confused in the dark by the signs near State Route 711. Juhasz said she asked her brother if they were going the wrong way just before the crash and her brother assured her they were going the right way.
Records indicated she was slowing down at the time of the crash, Juhasz said.
Bason’s mother, Katrina Jefferson, who is also the mother of Lyons and the grandmother of the children, said her daughter is not a bad person but someone who made a horrible mistake.
“She’s not a bad person,” Jefferson said. “She made a bad decision that cost me everything. I’m not just asking, I’m begging you to have mercy on my child.”
Bason, who also submitted a written statement, said nothing in her actions that morning was intentional.
“Nothing about this was intentional at all,” Bason said. “If I could get my kids back and my brother back, I would do anything to bring them back.”
Judge Donofrio said he grappled with the appropriate sentence because he said he knows no punishment will ever measure up to how Bason is punishing herself.
“I struggled with this,” Judge Donofrio said.
In the end, Judge Donofrio said while Bason does not have a bad criminal record, she does have a history of driving without a license and a drug addiction. When those two things are combined, they spell tragedy, such as the tragedy that unfolded when her children and brother were killed.
Judge Donofrio did say he will consider an early release from prison at the appropriate time for Bason.