JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man was sentenced to eight years in prison, plus 10 years of probation, for the hit-and-run death of a Navy pilot riding his bicycle last year.
Gregory Jacobs, 30, pleaded no contest to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality in last year's death of Lt. Robert Huish.
"You cannot put a price on anyone's life, let alone someone like Lt. Huish's life," Assistant State Attorney Mark Borello said after the sentencing. "But given the facts of this case, the judge clearly spent an incredible amount of time thinking about what he thought was appropriate. So from the state's point of view, justice was done today."
Police said Jacobs' car clipped Huish's bicycle while he was riding on East Coast Drive at Third Street in Atlantic Beach on Nov. 28. Huish, 26, died five days later at a hospital.
Police said tips led them to Jacobs' home in Neptune Beach, where his Isuzu Rodeo was parked in a garage with heavy damage.
Detectives said Jacobs' wife and two other passengers were with him at the time of the crash.
"I can't say that we're completely happy with the sentence, but I understand where the judge is coming from, and the family can live with the sentence he got," Lance Huish, Robert's father, said.
Huish was attached to HSL-44, based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and had returned from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East in July 2010.
At a sentencing hearing Friday, Jacobs read an emotional apology to the Huish family.
"Because of one dumb mistake, I stand here in front of you," Jacobs said. "I cannot apologize enough for my action after the accident and the weekend follow. I would do anything to change the outcome of that night."
After the apology, Huish asked Judge Adrian Soud for leniency.
"I was a coward; but I stand before you, recognizing my flaws and asking for a chance to redeem myself," Jacobs said.
Words were not enough for the Huish family. Lisa Huish, Robert's mother, spoke after the sentencing Monday morning.
"I'm just grateful that this community stood up for the sanctity of life and to let people know it's not OK, it's not OK. I understand it was an accident, but you cannot leave a human being on the side of the road like an animal. My son was a person," she said. "There is nothing that can describe the pain of a parent losing a child, and I don't know that anything will ever make it better, but maybe if it can stop it from happening to someone else, that's all I can ask for."
At the sentencing, the judge called Huish's death "an unmitigated disaster."
While Jacobs faced up to 15 years in prison, the judge noted the defendant was gainfully employed, active in his church and had no criminal history.
In addition to the eight-year sentence, Jacobs' probation includes being ineligible to obtain a driver's license and 1,000 hours of community service, 300 hours of which must be talking to young people about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Just before adjourning, the judge wished both families good luck.
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