A 23-year-old man who pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash that killed 13-year-old Brien Alvezios was sentenced Friday to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of drug-offender probation.
Anthony Margadonna was facing up to 30 years in prison for the crash that occurred two days after Thanksgiving in 2011.
During the hearing, Margadonna said he'd give his life to bring Alvezios back to his family, then made eye contact with victim's family and broke down crying. He said in court he knows he's ruined two family's lives -- his own family and the Alvezioses.
"I'm so sorry for taking your son from your family," Margadonna told Alvezios' family while crying.
Judge Don Lester said in deciding the sentence, he took into account the fact that Alvezios (pictured, below) likely died on impact and could not have been saved even if Margadonna had stopped. Lester also said there was no evidence Margadonna had been drinking at the time of the accident.
The state and defense questioned an accident reconstruction expert hired to re-enact the crash and examine it. Nancy Weseman testified that it was nearly impossible for Margadonna to see Alvezios before he was hit, saying the boy was wearing dark clothes on a low bike with reflectors that had been painted over.
"There was never any evidence that he caused the accident in any way," said Robert Shafer, Margadonna's attorney.
There was also testimony from another driver who nearly hit Alvezios as he rode his bicycle on Branan Field Chaffee Road at night while wearing dark clothing.
Meanwhile, the defense argued Margadonna didn't know he hit someone.
"The defendant here was charged only with leaving the scene of the accident. The defendant is not charged with causing the death of Brien, and I cannot sentence him for causing the death of Brien," Lester said before pronouncing the sentence.
"I don't think it's fair. My son was killed and I'll never have him again, and that man's only going to do five years. Not right," said Jenny Alvezios, Brien's mother, said of the sentence.
Holding his photo and fighting back tears, the Alvezios family said nothing can heal the pain they have endured.
"I have been very sick this year," Jenny Alvezios said. "I've had the hardest year of my whole life, and it will never be the same."
Brien Alvezios' father said he's encouraging Clay County to create bike and walking paths along Branan Field Chaffee Road as it continues developing the area.
Alvezios was riding his bike on Branan Field Road when Margadonna struck him, then drove off. Two days later, a friend of the Alvezios family happened to see a Jeep with front-end damage on Blanding Boulevard. He and his girlfriend followed the driver and called 911.
"We're right behind him. We're the third vehicle. If the cop looks over here, the vehicle is right in front of us. We just turned our lights on. I think the cop just got him," the 911 caller said.
When police caught up with Margadonna, they said he was trying to hide pieces of the Jeep. Investigators sent the pieces to FDLE for processing, and when the results came back, they arrested him.