JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Middleburg man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter in a deadly 2017 hit-and-run.
Joseph Wayne Wooten, 28, entered the guilty plea last week as part of a plea agreement in which prosecutors dropped a count of leaving the scene of a deadly crash, according to court records.
Wooten was ordered to serve three years’ probation after his prison sentence and complete 100 hours of community service. The judge revoked his license and ordered him to pay $10,000 restitution.
The charges stem from the death of Bradley Kirk, a 29-year-old Jacksonville father of three, who died after he was hit by a Chevrolet SUV while walking along West Beaver Street on April 20, 2017.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Wooten left the scene. But authorities found his SUV about 12 hours later in a neighborhood located approximately two miles away from the scene of the crash.
Surveillance video released by the State Attorney’s Office showed Wooten apparently drinking at a bar three hours before the wreck. Investigators said he admitted drinking and taking drugs beforehand.
For the Kirks, this day has been long awaited. Sofia Kirk, the victim's mother, told News4Jax she was surprised to hear Wooten make a statement in court Monday.
"He actually had a little compassion this time. That really surprised me. We would have liked a little more, but it’s okay. We did get the justice we told him we would get for him," she said.
The victim's grandmother, Norma Jean Landon, said that as a Christian, she has already found it in her heart to forgive Wooten for what happened.
"You have to forgive in order to be forgiven," Landon said. "I would like for him to have a better life when he comes out and would love to see the Lord in his life, to be honest with you, and in his family."
With credit for time already served, Wooten's sentence is closer to 14 years in prison than 15. He has 30 days to file an appeal.
Kirk leaves behind three children: 11-year-old Mia, 6-year-old Liam and 3-year-old Evelyn.
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