Today’s news:

Retarded Wendy’s killer expected to get life term

Justice Stephen Fisher of State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens...

By Chris Fuchs

Craig Godineaux, who pleaded guilty in January to murdering five workers at the Wendy’s in Flushing last spring, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Justice Stephen Fisher of State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens sentenced the 30-year-old mentally retarded man from Jamaica to five consecutive life terms in prison with no chance of parole.

Before the sentence was delivered, Godineaux expressed his regret.

“I do deserve what I get and I don’t expect nobody to accept my apologies,” he said, “because I feel what I did was wrong and I should have never been there in the first place.”

Joan Smith, the mother of victim Anita Smith, and one of three family members who offered statements, addressed both Godineaux and the courtroom.

“Craig might not have been the one who put the bullet in my daughter’s head,” she said. “But you are the same as John Taylor, a ruthless cold-blooded murderer.”

Taylor, 36, of Elmhurst, also was charged in the 50-count indictment, but he has entered a not-guilty plea and is awaiting trial.

While Smith spoke, a graduation photo of her daughter Anita which had been balanced on a podium fell to the ground. A court officer restored the victim’s image to its proper place. Anita Smith would have been 23 years old on Feb. 10.

Last month Godineaux pleaded guilty to the murders that stunned Flushing and ranked among the worst in the borough’s history.

In late May, around closing time, two men entered the Wendy’s on Main Street in Flushing and announced a robbery, the Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has said. The seven workers at the restaurant were marched into the basement, bound and gagged and then shot execution-style, Brown said. Five of them died.

Initially, both Godineaux and Taylor were both eligible for the death penalty since they had been charged with first-degree murder. But in late November, when the district attorney was expected to announce his decision on whether to pursue a capital case against the men, Godineaux’s attorney, Colleen Brady, argued that he was mentally retarded. New York is one of 13 states that do not execute such criminals.

After undergoing a battery of psychiatric exams, Godineaux was found to be mentally retarded, scoring at an IQ level that put him in the lowest 1 percent of the population, the district attorney said. As a result, Brown decided not to seek the death penalty against Godineaux. When he appeared in court on Jan. 22, Godineaux pleaded guilty to the entire indictment, recounting in simple, clinical terms how he and Taylor had carried out the murders.

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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