Judge sentences hit-and-run driver to 7 years in prison

- It was an emotional day in an Orange County courtroom as a judge handed down a sentence for man convicted in a deadly hit-and-run incident. 

Prosecutors argued that Lastevie Howard grew impatient while waiting in his car at an Ocoee intersection in January of 2015, so he hopped the curb. While passing the other cars, Howard struck two children who were standing next to their bicycles.  One of the children, 10-year-old Aubrey Clark, died from her injuries after spending several days in the hospital.

Howard was charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash with death, reckless driving causing serious bodily injury, and leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury.   Last month, after reaching an agreement with state prosecutors, Howard pleased guilty to the two leaving the scene charges. 

The judge heard emotional testimony from several members of Clark’s family, including her father, grandmother and stepmother who all spoke about the void the child’s death has caused in their lives.

Howard had a childhood friend, his pastor and boss testify on his behalf.   A police officer who helped investigate the crime even testified saying that while Howard did leave the scene, he returned before officers arrived and was praying over the girl. 

Clark's family begged the judge to give the maximum sentence which the state at the defense agreed he could receive, 17 years.   After careful consideration, the judge opted for a seven-year sentence instead.

Howard took the stand and apologized to the family for his actions that day.  Aubrey’s dad reacted to the apology after the sentencing. 

“To make an apology almost a year-and-a-half later, I don’t know how sincere it is, how remorseful he may have been.  He’s had plenty of chances to say 'sorry.'  He says he’s a man.  I’m a man as well. I would have said sorry immediately,” said Danny Clark. 

Clark said now that this is behind them, he and his family are going to work on piecing their lives back together. 

 

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