PLATTSBURGH — By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
It's been said that time heals all wounds; Nora Montanaro isn't convinced of that, but she is sure that out of bad must come good.
For Nora, her husband, Albert "Al" R. Montanaro Jr., and their three sons, the bad began on Monday, Jan. 16, 2006.
That day, while many Americans celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a vehicle struck and killed Nora and Al's eldest son, Albert R. Montanaro III, while he was jogging in the grass along Route 373 in Port Kent near the Montanaro's Ausable Chasm home.
"When most people think of MLK Day, they think of King's famous 'I have a dream' speech," Nora said in an email to the Press-Republican. "MLK Day was when all our dreams ended."
Twenty-year-old Albert had recently placed 19th in the state on the New York State Trooper test and was jogging that day to prepare his body to be a law-enforcement officer.
The driver of the vehicle that struck Albert, Steven R. Baker, was determined by police to have been drunk behind the wheel at the time of the collision.
Baker eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter for his involvement in Albert's death but not before being convicted of the same crime at trial and winning an appeal granting him a second trial.
Baker waived his right to the new trial when he pleaded guilty to the charge against him, and he was sentenced to 2 ⅓ to 7 years in state prison.
But the Montanaros found little comfort in the punishment of their son's killer. They had hoped Baker would be charged with murder in Albert's death and found his prison sentence to be inappropriately short.
In addition to the immense emotional blow to the Montanaro family, Albert's death and the legal proceedings surrounding it took a great toll on Al's physical health, Nora said.