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Aunt of slain FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo hopes accused Bronx killer will face trial as debate rages over his mental health

The New York Daily News - 12/20/2018

Dec. 20--Ali Acevedo believes the drug-addled man who ran down her EMT niece with a stolen ambulance is crazy -- and responsible for his crime.

"I sense that he's both," Acevedo, 61, said Thursday before a Bronx Supreme Court hearing where a decision on Jose Gonzalez's mental fitness for trial was delayed until Jan 17.

"You can be mentally ill and also be a criminal," added the maternal aunt of the slain Yadira Arroyo. " He's a criminal. He's a murderer."

Prosecutors announced their challenge Thursday to a finding that the gangbanger with a history of drug use and mental illness should not stand trial in the horrific March 16, 2017 death.

Arroyo, the 44-year-old mother of five sons, was twice run over with her own ambulance after Gonzalez jumped behind the wheel and took off, finally dragging her body into a Bronx intersection.

Gonzalez, 25, appeared for the hearing in an orange prison jumpsuit, wearing a black stone necklace and a maroon shawl. His expression remained cold as the attorneys argued over his potential murder trial.

Defense attorney Alice Fontier, noting the presence of the late Arroyo's colleagues in the courtroom, blasted the decision as unfair.

"There's a roomful of EMTs," she complained. "This was a political decision. They almost never contest the findings."

Test results from the city Department of Health declared Gonzalez was mentally unable to assist in his own defense. A psychiatrist for the Bronx DA's office had previously judged Gonzalez fit to face trial in the brutal killing of the beloved EMT.

Doctors on both sides will appear next month at the hearing to make their cases.

Acevedo, noting that her dead niece's 46th birthday arrives this Saturday, expressed optimism that the killer will face his day in court.

"At least tonight, when we pray and think of her, we can tell her that it's moving in the right direction," she said. "The wheels of justice are moving slowly, but hopefully it's moving in the right direction."


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