GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A woman who was six months pregnant when deputies said her ex-husband assaulted her with a car learned Monday how long he will be behind bars.
Mandy Young, who was since had her baby, was in a Clay County courtroom Monday morning when Kyle Lewallen, 24, was sentenced to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
“It was a relief -- a little bit -- just knowing he was going to be sentenced, behind bars," she told News4Jax. "I’m glad it was five years, but I wanted more.”
Lewallen got five years because he accepted a plea deal. If he had not taken the deal and the case had gone to trial, prosecutors would have added a charge of attempted murder, which carries a much stiffer sentence, if convicted. If he had been found guilty of both aggravated battery and attempted murder, he would have been facing up to potentially 30 years in prison.
Young and her baby are both doing fine, though she said she is still dealing with back pain and hospital bills. Young looks back on what happened to her and her unborn child and still cannot understand how they both survived.
"There is no explanation as to why I survived that night and no explanation as to how my unborn survived that night," she said. “I’ve even had doctors tell me they don’t know how I survived."
The last time News4Jax spoke to Young was in January, when she was six months pregnant with her second child and in a hospital, suffering from a fractured spinal cord. She was hospitalized after she said Lewallen threw her out of a moving car and then turned the car around and struck her with the vehicle.
"I knew something bad was about to happen," Young told News4Jax four months ago. "He swerved into the other lane and started coming into my direction, so I flung my bag and my glasses flew off when he hit my back."
Although Young has recovered from the fractured spine and her ex-husband will be headed to prison, she is still in physical and mental pain.
“It’s in my head every single day," she said Monday. “I could never forgive him because my children were involved and he was not only threatening my life, but my children and I take that very seriously.”
She and her family said they felt Lewallen should have been charged with attempted murder. Attorney Randy Reep, who is not affiliated with the case, said law enforcement officers file charges based on the information they have at the time of the arrest.
“It probably was appropriate to charge him with attempted murder, based on the statements the defendant made at the time of the arrest, but ultimately, that still changes once the plea occurs," Reep said.
He said other factors led to a five-year sentence instead of a much longer stint behind bars.
“Very young man, no meaningful criminal history prior and he took responsibility for it, says the police report, immediately upon meeting the police -- sometimes, defendants are given credit for that," Reep said. “There’s a slighter increased understanding for people who react in a moment that they’re not prepared for versus criminals that scheme for many months and years on how to do very sophisticated crimes.”
Young will be notified of Lewallen’s release from prison well in advance. There is a permanent injunction filed against him, but she said she's not convinced it will protect her and her children.