Youths get 15 years for fatal theft of signs
Saturday 21 June 1997
A jury ruled that one of the missing signs caused the death of three teenage boys who drove into the path of an eight-ton lorry.
In an emotional sentencing hearing, at which the defendants wept aloud, Judge Bob Mitchum first announced they would receive 30 years but then added: "I believe that some mercy should be shown to you, so I'm going to give you a downward departure and suspend the sentence after 15 years.
"I believe 30 years would be to waste your life but there must be punishment to fit the crime."
Under Florida's law, the three, who could have received life, will have to serve 85 percent of their terms, or 13 years.
Christopher Cole and Thomas Miller, now 20, and Nissa Baillie, now 21, admitted during their trial that they had stolen 19 stop signs along rural roads in Hillsborough Country, east of Tampa, on 7 February 1996. But they denied uprooting the sign that led to the deaths of the three teenagers returning from a pinball bowling session that night.
The defendants said they dumped the 19 signs into a river in panic after hearing of the crash. But the missing stop sign judged to have caused the fatal crash was found lying near that intersection.
Emotions ran high during the trial when the mother of one of the three boys who was killed in the crash, Ann Hertle, said she was convinced the defendants had not uprooted the stop sign in question.
"There were just too many inconsistencies. I know my own son's reactions and when I looked into the defendants' eyes, I knew they hadn't done it," she said.
The judge said he did "not believe for a minute" the three had pulled up the signs in a deliberate attempt to kill. "But [your actions] caused ramifications that none of you may ever have expected," he said.
The three were released on bail pending appeal.
- 1 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 3 Germanwings plane crash: I have depression. That doesn't make me a psychopath
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Germanwings plane crash: Investigators may have already found remains of suspected killer co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company are currently re...