Driver gets 13 year sentence for DUI crash that killed 2

Driver gets 13 year sentence for DUI crash that killed 2 »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Bakersfield man was sentenced to 13 years in prison for a drunk-driving crash that killed a small child and another passenger. On Thursday, Lonnie Haynes, 26, was sentenced after taking a plea deal in the case. Relatives of the victims told the court they wished he could get a tougher sentence.

The child killed was four-year-old Quani Pulley, the other victim was 23-year-old Jared Roberts. They were passengers in Haynes car in September, when he reportedly was under the influence, driving too fast, and rolled his car on the northbound off ramp from Highway 99 at California Avenue.

"I'm sure the young man is OK, but he just made a bad decision to drink and drive," Modell Taylor Tilford told Eyewitness News. She's the grandmother of Jared Roberts. That young man's aunt told the court his death is heart-wrenching and a profound loss.

Several other relatives said they thought the sentence was too light, and one called it a "slap on the wrist."

The grandmother thinks 20 years would have been appropriate, ten years for each victim killed. "It seems like my grandson's life didn't mean anything," Tilford said after the sentencing hearing. "That's the way we feel."

The mother of Quani Pulley was also at the hearing, and she spoke very quietly to the judge. She said she forgives Haynes. Quanita Johnson's 5-year-old son was also in the car that night, and he was seriously hurt. Johnson told Eyewitness News that little boy is doing OK.

Haynes had originally been arrested on two counts of vehicular manslaughter, felony DUI charges and two counts of child endangerment. But, he had taken the plea deal, and entered "no contest" pleas to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

The family of Jared Roberts says Haynes should be held accountable for what he did. "Any decision, you have to pay the consequences -- especially if it's a bad decision," the grandmother said. "He made a decision to drink and drive, and that was a bad decision."

Tilford shared the same birthday with Jared, and the family says his death leaves a very big hole. They say the young man also leaves behind three very young children. They say Jared was a good father, and worked hard to provide for his kids.

"Jared was a loveable person," Tilford added. "He was fun, he loved his family."

Judge Michael Lewis handed down the 13-year term, saying the purpose of sentencing is to meet the law and deter others from the same type of behavior. He urged the family to share their concerns with the community. And, Judge Lewis also said another goal of sentencing is rehabilitation, hoping Haynes would change his behavior.

Jared Roberts' family said they had hoped he would write a letter of apology, but they haven't received anything.

Tilford says she has forgiven Haynes. "I forgive him," she said. "But, I don't like what he did."