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Hit-and-run driver sentenced for killing 9-year-old Ohio girl

A Lisbon, Ohio, man was sentenced to four years in prison as well as four additional years of probation for fatally hitting a 9-year-old girl in Salem and leaving her on the road. The 29-year-old man had pleaded guilty to charges of "aggravated vehicular homicide and failure to stop after an accident." The girl had been crossing the street with a friend one evening in November 2012 when she was killed.

According to the prosecutor, the man was speeding past other vehicles before he hit the girl. The impact of the crash knocked the child under another vehicle some 130 feet away. Then, the driver made what the prosecutor called a "completely selfish, self-interested decision" to keep going. The prosecutor says that he stopped to determine the extent of damage to his pickup truck, but not to check on the girl. He then reportedly joined friends for a drink at a bar. He finally called police the next day "at the urging of friends."

The defendant apologized to the victim's family at the sentencing and said he understood that they felt he should have received a harsher sentence. In addition to the jail time and probation, he is losing his driver's license for 10 years, and has to visit organizations and schools where he will be "speaking about the dangers of driving recklessly or while impaired."

The victim's family, however, appeared to be having none of it. The girl's mother noted his "lack of emotion" throughout the case. Her father said that the defendant "will always be in my nightmares." The girl's aunt, a nurse, said that she had never before seen the kind of injuries inflicted on her niece. It didn't help that the defendant noted that he couldn't serve a long jail sentence because he needed "to get home to his daughters." Those daughters, 6 and 11, had reportedly been behind him in another vehicle when the Ohio car accident occurred.

It was not reported whether the victim's family is filing a civil suit against the defendant. Civil litigation is undertaken for any number of reasons. It can be used to compensate families for money spent on medical care and funeral costs, as well as non-economic damages like emotional distress. However, punitive damages are often sought as well when families feel that the criminal justice system has not sufficiently punished a person for his or her wrongdoing.

Source: Morning Journal News, "Emotions come out in court" Deanne Johnson, Feb. 08, 2014

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