HARTFORD, Conn. – HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for a hit-and-run accident that sparked outrage because video showed bystanders ignoring the 78-year-old victim.
Luis Negron was sentenced in Hartford Superior Court on what would have been the 80th birthday of the victim, Angel Arce Torres. Negron was chasing another motorist in a dispute over money in May 2008 when he struck Torres, who died from his injuries a year later.
Negron, 34, was arrested within days of Torres' death, and he pleaded guilty in February to manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. He received a 10-year sentence on each of the charges, to be served at the same time.
Surveillance video showed cars and trucks driving past Torres as he lay injured in the street and bystanders appearing to do nothing, although some did call 911.
Superior Court Judge David P. Gold acknowledged that the punishment he meted out would not satisfy Torres family members who packed the courtroom.
"I've agonized over it," he said.
The state recommended a sentence of 12 years and the victim's family sought 15 years.
Torres' son, Angel Arce, spoke for more than an hour about his father and his importance to the family. He showed slides of his father as a strong, fit man and others of him after he was knocked down by Negron's car, paralyzed and confined to a hospital bed.
"The streets don't belong to people who are recklessly driving," Arce said. "This family, all it wants is justice."
Negron told Gold he was sorry for causing Torres' death and insisted he did not try to evade responsibility by failing to stop and help Torres or surrender to police.
"I was scared of this. I never meant to hurt anyone," he said. "I apologize to the family."
But Gold dismissed Negron's comments.
"Mr. Negron, you ignored not only the efforts by the police trying to solve this crime, but you ignored the pleas of a grieving family," the judge said.
Still, he said he has a duty to impose what he believes is a fair sentence that is consistent with prison terms handed down by other judges in comparable cases.
Negron's lawyer, Gerald Klein, told reporters after the hearing that similar cases involving drunken driving typically draw prison terms of between three and five years. The longer term for his client is because he was at-large for a year and reflects the Torres family's suffering.
"He does not think it's unfair," Klein said.