On Thursday in a Maricopa County courtroom, a woman accused in a fatal 2010 hit-and-run accident of a Peoria teenager was sentenced by a judge to six years in prison, and an additional 3 years of supervised probation to follow.
Police stated at the time regarding the October 29, 2010 incident, that 18-year-old Joey Romero was walking home on a Peoria sidewalk from his place of employment when he was struck by a vehicle whose driver fled the scene. Romero was taken to a hospital where he died two days later.
Police collected evidence from the scene and were able to link 25-year-old Laura Champion Flanders to the crash.
Flanders told authorities that she was so heavily medicated for her migraines that she had accidentally consumed a bottle of nail polish shortly before the crash and in fact did not realize that she hit a pedestrian, but rather thought she had struck a tree.
County prosecutors stated that Flanders has now been sentenced for the specific charges of negligent homicide and leaving the scene of a fatal accident, after she pleaded guilty to both charges as part of a plea deal. An emotional Flanders stated Thursday in the courtroom:
"From the bottom of my heart, I want to say how sorry I am to their family."
Judge Joseph Kreamer reportedly responded before sentencing the young mother to six years in prison:
"I want to tell you I do believe that you are remorseful."
Joey's father Jesse Romero Jr. was noticeably upset during and after the sentencing, and had apparently asked for a longer sentence, but the plea deal would not permit it. Jesse got "Joey's Law", which ups stiffens the penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a crash, passed in 2012.
Flanders will serve three years of probation when she gets out of prison.
As a Phoenix accident attorney, I remember seeing this story at the time, and the subsequent passing of "Joey's Law", which appears to be a positive step toward battling hit-and-run incidents in our state.
It is never alright to leave the scene of an accident, and those who do so should be punished for their actions to the full extent of the law.
Our Phoenix car accident law firm feels for the family and friends of the victim, after what is surely an irrevocable loss.