Just four days before her 21st birthday, Karlie Tomica was sentenced to spend four years in prison in connection with the hit-and-run DUI killing of the 49-year-old husband, father and chef Stefano Riccioletti. In court, Tomica turned her attention to Riccioletti's widow and tearfully admitted to drinking heavily during her bartending shift at South Beach's Nikki Beach nightclub. She admitted to getting in her car and driving down Collins Avenue this past January. As she was sobbing, Tomica confessed to running over Stefano Riccioletti as he was walking to the Shore Club where he worked as the executive chef at Terrazza, and she even admitted to driving away as a Good Samaritan motorist tried to pull her over.
"I know my actions shattered the hearts of his wife, his children, his friends and all who knew him" said Tomica on Wednesday afternoon in Miami-Dade Circuit Court as her family stood by her. "I broke the hearts of my parents. I broke my younger sister's heart and broke my boyfriend's heart."
As Tomica was sobbing to an emotional courtroom, courtroom observers from both sides were in tears. "If my drinking at work and becoming drunk wasn't bad enough, killing Mr. Stefano and driving away and leaving him to die was inexcusable," she said.
Tomica, a once self-described "party princess" accepted a guilty plea and agreed to a four year prison sentence, two years of house arrest, and fifteen years probation. With her driver's license permanently revoked, Tomica will never get behind the wheel again. The former Florida International University student will also have to complete more than 1,000 hours of community service and she will have to speak to students at least five times a year about killing Riccioletti.
Tomica pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter,
leaving the scene of a fatal accident, resisting arrest without violence and
DUI property damage.
This particular case drew national attention because of the callousness with which Riccioletti was killed. According to a witness, the impact sent Riccioletti flying in the air until he landed in the driveway of a nearby hotel. At the bail hearing, the prosecutor said that the street "was painted with blood." The witness Jairo Fuentes said that Tomica kept going, even as Fuentes followed her, imploring her to stop her vehicle. Instead of stopping, Tomica tried to lose him on Collins Avenue.
When Fuentes finally confronted Tomica in the valet area of her building, her hair was spotted with blood and flesh that had come in through her driver's side window. She ignored Fuentes, entered the building and headed to her 17th floor condo where she was soon arrested by Miami Beach police officers.
Tomica refused to submit to a breath test at the scene, she wound up falling asleep in a chair at the Miami Beach police station where she was snoring loudly. Another woman's driver's license was found in her purse, which detectives believe she used to purchase alcohol. Two hours after the accident, her blood alcohol content was 0.225%, three times the legal limit of .08%.
Riccioletti's family is currently suing Nikki Beach, claiming that the nightclub was negligent in allowing an underage employee to drink alcohol.