Family members hugged and cried outside the courtroom Thursday morning after Brandon Valentine learned he would have to serve eight years in prison for causing the death of 8-year-old Camden King in a car crash.
Valentine’s sentence — 16 to 18 years before time off for good behavior — was close to the maximum he could have received on a manslaughter charge for what happened March 16 as a result of Valentine driving more than 50 mph over the speed limit.
“That’s how much time Mr. Valentine robbed from everyone that morning,” Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Dan Zieg said in arguing for the sentence.
Valentine had pleaded guilty.
Asked if he wanted to say anything first, the 23-year-old said, “I’m sorry to Camden’s parents.”
Police say he was hungover and going 85 mph in a 30-mph zone that morning when he collided with the boy’s father as he drove him to daycare.
“This case is not about alcohol,” defense attorney Nick Glasz said in asking for probation and forgiveness from the court. "This case is about a man who made a criminal mistake and was speeding and in the course of speeding an individual was killed, Mr. Camden King. And we’re remorseful for that and we’ve taken responsibility. We’re the only one in this case that has taken responsibility."
Glasz tried to lay some of the blame for the crash on Jesse King, Camden’s father, who he said had rolled through a stop sign.
Zieg called it a blatant lie, saying the only person responsible for the crash was Valentine. And he took issue with Glasz calling what happened an accident.
"You don’t get 55 miles an hour over the speed limit by accident,” he said.
Zieg said it was no different than pulling a gun out, shooting at a crowd and calling it an accident if you kill someone.
He said Valentine blamed it on another driver’s bright headlights, which had annoyed him and led him to speed. Then, on Camden’s father for pulling out in front of him.
“I think (it is) time for the court to send a message to Mr. Valentine about who was really at fault for this accident,” Zieg said.
Glasz said what happened certainly wasn’t intentional, and Valentine clearly had been emotional when he was asked about causing Camden’s death. He couldn’t speak or look the investigator in the eye.
In the end, Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn told Valentine that one of the most important things he has to take into consideration at sentencing is the protection of the public, and he couldn’t ignore that Valentine was going well over double the speed limit.
“As a result of your actions, a young child died. His father was seriously injured. The car they were riding in was just literally destroyed,” he said.
Then, Colborn said the prison term, prompting a man in the back row to shake his fist in quiet celebration.
“Yes,” he said, as guards ushered Valentine out the back door.