Local News

Man gets 16-20 years in prison for running over, killing boy

Posted May 21, 2009 3:36 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2009 6:51 p.m. EDT

— A Four Oaks man was sentenced Thursday to more than 16 years in prison for running over and killing a 7-year-old boy last year.

A jury convicted Hipolito Hernandez, 31, of Parkertown Road, of second-degree murder and driving while impaired in the April 13, 2008, wreck that led to the death of Marcus Lassiter. He was sentenced to 196 to 254 months in prison.

Lassiter had been playing in his grandmother's yard and was trying to cross Heath Road when he was struck, and he later died in a hospital.

Hernandez, an illegal immigrant, had been charged with DWI four previous times. Two of the charges were dismissed, one was reduced, and the fourth was pending.

The defense attorney in both dismissed DWI cases was Lee Hatch, and the prosecutor in one was Cyndi Jaeger. They are among six people who have been charged in a Johnston County ticket-fixing case.

According to indictments, 70 dismissal forms with Jaeger's signature were filed after she left her job in September 2007. The dismissal forms were filed for clients of Hatch and three other defense attorneys. A former deputy court clerk is accused of deleting the attorneys' names from at least two cases from the courthouse computer system.

Most of the dismissals cited in the indictments were DWI cases.

The two dismissed cases against Hernandez weren't part of the criminal investigation. Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said the charges were legitimately dropped when officers didn't show up in court to testify.