When Amanda Kosal faced the judge for causing death through drink driving, the tears were streaming down her face. Moreover, as the dead man’s sister read a statement from his children, it must have caused Kosal deep anguish. However, at that very moment, something happened that blew her and the rest of the courtroom away.
This story begins one fateful June 2016 morning in Redford Township, a suburban area of Detroit, Michigan. Local resident Amanda Kosal, then 25, was behind the wheel of her pick-up truck. However, she was intoxicated, and as a result Kosal made a deadly error.
Making her way northbound along Beech Daly Road, Kosal crossed over the road’s center line. In doing so, she smashed directly into an oncoming SUV that contained Jerome Zirker, 31, and his fiancée Brittany Johnson, also 31. Moreover, because of Kosal’s drunken mistake, there were tragic consequences for the couple and their families.
Johnson, from Inkster, Michigan, was badly injured in the crash and taken for treatment at hospital. However, Zirker, also from Inkster, was identified as dead upon arrival. He’d been behind the wheel of the SUV when it was struck. In an instant, because of Kosal’s stupidity, one man was dead and his partner was left severely injured. However, there was more sad news to come.
In fact, it turned out that Johnson and Zirker had five children together. Thankfully, none of them had been in their parents’ car that day. However, this meant that those kids would grow up without their dad, and Johnson having to face the prospect of raising them all as a single mom. Not an easy task, by any means.
Naturally, Kosal would have to face the consequences for her crime. In 2016 she pleaded guilty to causing the death by driving under the influence. Then, in February 2017 she faced another day in court. It was time for her to learn what sentence she would receive.
The hearing was held at Wayne County Circuit Court in Michigan. Presiding over the proceedings and deciding Kosal’s fate was Judge Qiana Lillard. During the hearing, when impact statements were being read out, Kosal was seen shedding tears. So, it’s fair to say that she appeared remorseful for her actions.
In the end, Judge Lillard ordered Kosal to serve three to 15 years behind bars. However, that wasn’t the end of the action in the courtroom that day. In fact, Kosal wasn’t the only person on the receiving end of Lillard’s judgement.
That’s because, while Kosal herself showed remorse as Zirker’s sister read out a witness statement from her nieces and nephews, other people in the courtroom appeared to have responded with laughter and smirking. Moreover, astonishingly, one of those people was Donna Kosal, the accused’s own mother.
Needless to say, because this was such a sensitive moment during an extremely serious case, the apparent joking from Donna Kosal and another family member did not go down at all well with Judge Lillard. In fact, she decided she needed to take immediate action.
After asking Zirker’s sister to stop reading out the statement, Judge Lillard chose to address the courtroom directly. Outraged, she said, “Whoever can sit here at a tragic moment like this and laugh and smile when somebody has lost a family member… in the entire time that Mr. Zirker’s sister was speaking, that clown – and that’s what I am going to call him, a clown – was sitting there smiling and laughing.”
Moreover, as Judge Lillard spoke, the “clown” in question was seen walking out of the courtroom. In fact, the whole incident was captured on the court video. However, the dramatic events didn’t end there. Someone else was about to be on the receiving end of Judge Lillard’s sharp-but-fair tongue.
“And you can go, too,” Judge Lillard continued, raising her finger at Donna, Kosal’s mother. “Because if you don’t know how to act, you can go to jail. So leave. This is a court of law, and these are very serious matters.” Meanwhile, everyone else in the courtroom looked suitably subdued.
Then, addressing Kosal’s family directly, the judge said, “I understand you all are very upset because your loved one is going to prison, but guess what? She’s going to prison for the choices that she made.”
Judge Lillard then turned thing up a notch, stating, “These people are here grieving, saddened because a senseless act took away their loved one. And you’re sitting here acting like it’s a joke? Not in Courtroom 502. Not today and not any other day.”
The video shows court officers escort Donna Kosal from the main room. Then, the judge made another statement, and Kosal was summoned back. “Your disruptive and disrespectful behavior disrupted today’s proceedings,” said Lillard. “And you, ma’am, are going to the Wayne County Jail for 93 days.”
So, with that Donna Kosal was escorted off the premises – but not before she dared to talk back to the judge. Still clearly furious, Judge Lillard made one final warning to the courtroom: “Anybody else wanna go? Try it!”
Incredibly, the video, posted on the Facebook page of WDIV Local 4/ClickOnDetroit, has already been watched 24 million times and received more than 230,000 shares. It seems Lillard’s impassioned speech struck a chord with people around the world, many of whom agreed with her action against Donna Kosal.
Moreover, the global response didn’t go unnoticed by Lillard herself. She even took to Facebook to say thanks to all the people who’d watched the clip and made comments. The judge wrote, “Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to visit this page to express your feelings. I am honored to have the privilege of serving the citizens of Wayne County.”
So, what of Donna Kosal? Well, in the end, she didn’t complete her jail term. Indeed, while she did spend the night of her daughter’s court appearance behind bars, the next day she was hauled before Lillard again. She tearfully apologized and Lillard reduced her sentence to one day behind bars, which she had served. Nonetheless, while Donna Kosal was free to go, her daughter, of course, remained incarcerated – a tragic reminder of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.