JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The daughter of a woman hit and killed in May said she is reliving her mother's death after being inside the courtroom this week when a judge handed down a judgment of 60 days in jail to the man charged in the accident.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, 55-year-old Paula Abdullah (pictured below) was walking home from work along New Berlin Road on the Northside around 9:45 p.m. on May 6 when she was hit and killed. At the time, the incident was labeled a hit-and-run, but the next day, after seeing news reports, 22-year-old Brandon Fruscella came forward, saying he thought he'd hit a mailbox. After an investigation, Fruscella was charged only with leaving the scene of an accident.
Monday morning at Fruscella's sentencing hearing, the judge gave Fruscella the maximum penalty for a second-degree misdemeanor, which is 60 days. Paula Abdullah's daughter, Sharifah Abdullah, said she's heartbroken for her family and her mother.
"Our mother's not here, but you get 60 days? Those 60 days to him are going to feel like six months, but to us it's going to feel like two months," Sharifah Abdullah said. "It's nothing at all."
She said she feels the punishment just doesn't fit the crime
"I was shocked. I was like, '60 days -- that's it?' I mean, I wanted to stand up in front of the judge and say, 'No way it's going down like that. He needs to get at least one year.' That's the least he should get for taking someone's life away."
Fruscella's defense attorney, Mitch Stone, said the prosecution could only prove Fruscella had left the scene of an accident.
"He knew he caused damage to his car, but not to something else," Stone said.
Stone said police conducted a thorough investigation, checking Fruscella's alibi and testing him for alcohol and drugs. He said in court, he fought for Fruscella to receive probation and community service.
"The solution, if you will, was that he would be charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in property damage. That's the extent of what they were able to prove," Stone said. "And they honestly understood the family was very upset. They wanted the maximum amount of time, which is 60 days in jail on a second-degree misdemeanor, and that's what he got."
But Sharifah Abdullah said her family wanted much more.
"This 60 days he's getting, I hope he sits there and I hope he thinks about what he did. I hope he suffers," she said. "Because you have taken someone's life away. Your 60 days can't compare to my mom not being here at all. There is no comparison at all for that."
Stone said they have no intention of appealing the sentence, and Sharifah Abdullah said even though they wanted more than 60 days, at least the family now has closure.