A victim advocate described Jordan’s last bike ride with his best friend to the court, while his 11 year old client sat next to him crying. The bike ride happened nearly two years ago in Ocoee, Florida, near Orlando.
The two children were riding their bikes along the sidewalk when a car veered off the road, onto the walk and hit Jordan’s best friend, Aubrey. Aubrey flew 39 feet in the air after being struck, suffering severe brain damage. After 16 days on life support, her family made the heart-wrenching decision to take her off life support.
According to Jordan, since then Jordan has been afraid to cross the street. “The most painful thing in my life was to watch my friend die,” he said. “I think of all the things she will miss out on growing up.” These words came during the recent sentencing hearing, where a judge sentenced the man behind the wheel to seven years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of four years. This is much less than the 17 years that the victim’s family was seeking.
The man is 42 year old Lastevie Howard, who earlier pled guilty to charges of leaving the scene of an accident with a death and a crash causing great bodily injuries. He is an eight-time convicted felon.
According to witness testimony, Howard had plowed into oncoming traffic while exiting a nearby Walgreens parking lot. He then jumped the curb on the grassy median, cut across Clarke Road where he hit the children who were standing on the sidewalk with their bikes. After initially fleeing the scene, police reports indicate that Howard did return several minutes later after he had ‘overcome his panic’. Although one witness said it took at least 15 minutes for him to return.
In exchange for Howard’s plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges for vehicular homicide and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury. According to the judge, although evidence about Howard’s erratic driving was presented at the hearing, she could not take it into account in the sentencing decision as he was not convicted on these accounts, thus the lower prison sentence.
Despite the lower than hoped for sentence, the victim’s father said he was happy with the outcome, noting that it wasn’t the absolute minimum. It is yet to be determined if the family plans on filing a civil suit for wrongful death.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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