Repeat Drunk Driver Sentenced To Mininum Of 15 Years In Prison
Posted January 6, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE — A repeat drunk driver who admitted he killed a motorcyclist with his truck last year learned his punishment on Friday.
Antonio Speranza, 44, pleaded guilty earlier this week to second degree murder and a list of other charges related to the death of Danny Deavers.
On Friday, a judge sentenced Speranza to jail for a minimum of 15 years.
"I guess he got what was coming to him," said Ralph Dorn, a friend of Deavers.
During the sentencing hearing, Speranza's attorney claimed that years of drug and alcohol abuse is what led to Speranza driving impaired the night he fatally wounded Deavers.
His friends and family say addiction took over the 44-year-old's life.
"He's not the same person today as he may have been years ago," said Vicki Adcox, a family friend of Speranza. "He would do anything for anyone. He never would hurt anyone maliciously. It was the drugs."
Carl Barrington, Speranza's attorney, says he feels remorse for both families.
"This boy has dishonored himself and them and he knows it," Barrington said. "That's a cross he's going to have to bear for a long time."
Speranza was set to apologize to Deavers' loved ones in court, but he did not go through with it.
Judge Jack Thompson says structured sentencing did not give him much leeway in his decision. Deavers' sister says no matter what the sentence, their lives have been shattered.
"We really hope Speranza ultimately finds a way to get back to life," said Carol Lavigne, Deavers' sister. "I was pleased his family addressed us on the stand. We're just glad it's over."
At his lawyers' requests, the judge also recommended that Speranza receive a psychiatric evaluation and treatment for his problems with depression and anxiety. The courtroom was packed with Deavers' friends and family, who say they want justice against the repeat drunk driver and admitted drug addict.
Deavers' friend Ralph Dorn took the stand to describe the accident. "He passed by me probably within a foot. He was already over the yellow line, and then I heard a horrifying crash," Dorn said.
A convenience store clerk also testified. Diana Beasley said she saw Speranza just minutes before the crash, when he stole beer from her store. She said she would never have sold it to him if he had tried to buy it.
"He was very clearly either high or drunk or something," Beasley said. "His speech was slurred and he wasn't talking real clearly. His eyes were red. He was doing the swaying and just plainly was on something," she said.
Speranza is expected to speak on his own behalf sometime during the sentencing hearing.
He faces up to 44 years in prison. -->