Cameron Herrin, now 21, was allegedly racing with a fellow student in Tampa in his brand-new Ford Mustang — a high-school graduation present — when he slammed into Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt, 24, who was pushing her daughter Lillia in a stroller across a road in 2018.
On Thursday, Herrin appeared wide-eyed as Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash sentenced him to 24 years in prison — six years short of the maximum sentence, which the victims’ family members had asked for, reports said. He was placed in handcuffs as members of his family wept, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The decision came following a long day of testimony, in which members of Herrin’s family talked about his character before the victim’s family members discussed their heartbreak over the incident. The judge said Herrin’s track record of excessive speeding contributed to his sentencing decision.
“It’s impossible to have greater harm than occurred in this case,” Nash said, according to the paper.
Nearly three years after the incident, the victim’s family believe they finally have some justice, reports said. Following the sentencing, David Raubenolt, the widower and father of Lillia said his wife would have “never wanted to see any person suffer and this would have been a very hard day for her to sit in and through.”
“But ultimately if she knew our goal was to make these streets safer, being the humble person that she was, she would accept her sacrifice and be grateful for it,” he added, according to FOX 13 of Tampa Bay.
The incident occurred in May 2018, when Herrin, then 18, and a friend, John Barrineau, then 17, were driving in separate cars in the Tampa area. Witnesses told police they appeared to be racing and at times, the vehicles were parallel to each other as they maneuvered between two lanes. The Nissan driven by Barrineau avoided the mother, but the Mustang driven by Herrin struck the woman and child, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Cheryl Herrin, the mother of Cameron, testified Thursday that her son called after the incident and said she could hear him crying.
“Mom,” he said. “I’ve killed someone.”
“No, Cameron,” she responded. “You’re mistaken.”
Cheryl Herrin then drove to the crash scene on Bayshore Boulevard and saw her son on his hands and knees in the grassy median, according to the Times.
“I feel responsible for this accident,” she told the judge. “If I could, I would step in front of Cameron, and I would accept the punishment you might render.”
In court, one of the central battles waged by the lawyers was over data recovered from the Mustang’s internal computer system, which indicated the vehicle was traveling more than 100 mph moments before the crash, FOX 13 reported.
Despite arguments by the defense that said the lead detective unlawfully obtained the computer system from the Mustang without a proper warrant, the data was ultimately allowed into evidence. Data from the navigation system also recorded other speeding incidents in the days before the crash, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
A week before the trial was set to begin, Herrin and Barrineau changed their pleas to guilty and they admitted to racing and causing the deadly crash, FOX 13 reported. Barrineau cut a deal with the state and was sentenced to six years in prison.
On Thursday, David Raubenolt said he now sweats when he enters the empty room of his daughter, the paper reported.
“I want you to never forget that you have caused thousands of people to cry,” Raubenolt told the defendant.
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