The man accused of a fatal hit and run that occurred on the Rickenbacker Causeway in February 2012 is expected to be sentenced in Miami-Dade Circuit Court today.
The accused faces over 30 years in prison for charges of leaving the scene of an accident (LSA) causing death (a first-degree felony), leaving the scene of an accident (LSA) causing serious bodily injury, and driving while license suspended (DWLS) with knowledge.
The accused made headlines last year when he struck and killed a cyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The accused is alleged to have left the scene of the accident. However, he did turn himself in to police several hours later. At the time of the crash, the accused was in the Drug Court program for a possession of cocaine charge. He will also be sentenced for that charge today as well.
The accused pleaded guilty to all charges several months ago. It appears that this is a court plea, where the accused has entered an open plea to the court and will present mitigating evidence that may (or may not) persuade the judge to impose a reasonable sentence. Mitigating evidence may include testimony from friends and family, evidence of a positive work history, good education, and lack of a prior criminal record. In this case, given the fact that the accused was once in the Drug Court program, I imagine that the accused's attorney will present evidence of the accused's efforts toward rehabilitation and treatment.
The judge may sentence the accused within his guideline range. However, the judge can also make written findings that the accused is not a danger to the community and may impose a sentence that is below his recommended guideline range.
Given the extensive media coverage, the probability that friends and family members of the decease will be in court to voice their objections to a short sentence, and the fact that the accused had pending charges at the time of the crash, I fully expect the judge to sentence the accused to a minimum of ten years.
The accused has been in custody without a bond since his February 2012 arrest due to the fact that he was in Drug Court, thus out on felony bond, when he picked up this new charge.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.