CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A man who entered a guilty plea in a Clay County crash that killed an infant in 2018 was sentenced Thursday to a total of 14 years in prison.
Randy Teal Jr., 33, pleaded guilty Aug. 9 to DUI manslaughter and DUI serious injury, court records show.
Teal was driving home from a Jaguars game on Dec. 16, 2018, when, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, his Jeep struck the rear of a vehicle stopped in traffic on Blanding Boulevard in Orange Park, causing a chain reaction crash.
A 6-month-old girl, Sophie Friesenhahn, was killed. Her mother, grandmother and a third person suffered serious injuries.
Prosecutors said the infant and her family were going home after getting her first Christmas photos taken with Santa Claus.
According to the affidavit, Teal’s blood-alcohol level was .125.
During the sentencing hearing Thursday, there were emotional victim impact statements that left nary a dry eye in the courtroom.
The last photo of Friesenhahn was shown, with her sitting in Santa’s lap for the first and only time. Her mother said the baby was “the light of her life.”
“She made all the hard days fade away and become easier, especially when she would look at me with her beautiful, bright blue eyes and her contagious smile. She was one of the best things to ever happen to me and getting to be her mom was the biggest blessing to ever happen to me,” she said in her victim impact statement.
Teal also addressed the family and apologized.
“Of all the things that you’ve been through, I take responsibility and I apologize, even though sorry is not enough, an apology is not enough. But I am sorry. I truly, from the bottom of my heart, if I could get down on my knees, if it wasn’t for these chains. If I was to give up my life right now to take away the hurt and pain you guys have been through, I am truly sorry,” he said.
Teal said that many days he wanted to reach out to the family to apologize before Thursday. He also left flowers and balloons at Friesenhahn’s memorial site.
The state was seeking 28 years in prison and the defense asked for four years before a judge handed down the sentence of 14 years.
Friesenhahn’s grandmother spoke after the sentencing.
“My head tells me his apology is heartfelt, but I feel like forgiveness for him and accepting his apology will come later,” she said. “It’s been such a hard day. I’m numb. I have no emotion left anymore.”