2007-07-13 / Front Page

Bain Teen Loses Second Parent At Dad's Sentencing

By Brian Magoolaghan

Ateenage boy from Rockaway watched in Queens Supreme Court Tuesday, as his father was sentenced to prison for killing his mother in a drunk-driving crash, but not before listening to damaging information about both parents and hearing relatives call for the maximum sentence.

Flanked by his surrogates, Thomas "Tommy" Bain, 13, sat in the second row of the courtroom as the sentencing of his father, Edward Bain, was carried out. Bain, 40, was found guilty June 7 of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving charges, stemming from a September, 2005 car crash in which his wife, Donna Marie Murtagh Bain, 35, died instantly.

Justice Randall T. Eng would sentence Bain to four to 12 years in prison, but before that his son Tommy would watch news photographers fire away at his father and hear the most disparaging remarks about both his parents.

The courtroom audience was divided by the center aisle, with Tommy and his father's other supporters on one side and his mother's family and their supporters on the other.

"I'm just looking at the little boy," Denna Cohen, a victim advocate and president of MADD Long Island, said to a woman next to her as she peered across the courtroom. "It just breaks my heart."

The mother of the victim, Jackie Murtagh Abrams, took the stand first to read her statement. Tommy listened as his maternal grandmother and uncle who followed, recounted his father's prior drunk-driving and gun convictions and accused his father of viciously abusing his late mother, before asking the judge for the maximum sentence.

Abrams described her son-in-law as a "physically abusive and emotionally damaged husband" who "wanted [Donna] for his own to control and abuse for 12 years."

Tommy grimaced and shook his head "no" as Abrams told the crowded courtroom that he once said he was glad his mother was dead because she wouldn't have to come home to his father's abuse again. He had the same reaction when his uncle, Billy Murtagh, told a similar story.

"Ed Bain, you tortured my sister and you didn't have the decency to let her go," Billy Murtagh said. "May you use your time [in jail] wisely and become a better man. Goodbye, Ed Bain."

Tommy's relationship with his mother's family has crumbled since his mother's death, and the matter of who will gain custody of him is now in Family Court. Before the hearing began, Tommy submitted a letter to the judge in which he spoke about his fractured family and asked for mercy for his dad.

"Since this has happened, there has been a rift between my mother's side of the family, and my father and I," the letter says. "We did not want this to happen, but they cannot seem to get past the fact that this was an accident, not on purpose."

Tommy said the "one thing left that could possibly happen" would be if his father got probation. "Finally after two years of waiting for this to end we would be able to move on."

But the judge would not be swayed. Assistant District Attorney Brian Lee said Bain was going more than twice the speed limit on a rain-slicked section of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, and that Bain's blood alcohol content was double the legal limit at the time of the deadly crash. Tommy heard his father's defense attorney, Dennis Coppin, use medical records to portray his mother as a cocaine user who was also intoxicated that night. And he listened as his father apologized to his mother's family and denied trying to escape responsibility.

"I do want to say that I'm sorry… I shouldn't have been driving. It was the lesser of two evils," Bain said, referring to his unsubstantiated claim that Donna started off behind the wheel that night. "I hope that you would afford me the time to raise my son somewhere down the road."

Judge Eng admonished Bain for speeding, driving drunk and for driving his Ford Bronco with a suspended license while out on bail, all of which he characterized as "intolerable irresponsibility."

Eng also noted that Bain, who has a DWI conviction from 1993 and a gun possession conviction from 1999, was "climbing the ladder of criminal activity." He then handed down the sentence of four to 12 years.

Bain's attorney Dennis Coppin called the outcome "a tragedy" and filed papers for an appeal, which will be handled by attorney Randall Unger.

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