The daughter of beloved Lincoln cyclist Randy Gibson asked a judge Tuesday to make an example of the drunken driver who killed her father as he rode his bike on a rural road in September 2017.
Sofia Gibson implored Lancaster County District Judge Susan Strong to send a message to drunken drivers by sentencing Zygmunt Spicha to the full extent of the law.
"So that those who think it's only a five-minute drive home so they'll be fine can see Spicha's punishment and triple-think about the decision they're about to make," she said.
She was robbed of all the father-daughter memories they'd yet to make. A supportive father, passionate for cycling and committed to providing for his family, was "murdered," she said.
The fallout from her 52-year-old father's death has devastated her family, she said in rare courtroom remarks from a victim's family at sentencing.
The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said Spicha's Jeep Cherokee hit Gibson's bike Sept. 23, 2017, while both were headed east on West Sprague Road near Southwest 58th Street.
Gibson, who was wearing a helmet, died at the scene.
Spicha, who remained at the scene after the crash, appeared drunk and told deputies Gibson's bike "came out of nowhere," investigators wrote in an affidavit to arrest him.
His blood-alcohol level measured 0.13 percent in a breathalyzer test, according to the affidavit.
Spicha pleaded no contest to motor vehicle homicide while driving under the influence.
At his sentencing Tuesday, a crowd of more than 50 people, mostly supporting Gibson's family, packed the wooden benches in the courtroom.
Many donned black shirts with an orange logo of Gibson's initials. Some brought pictures of him.
Many rode their bikes to the courthouse, and others came on Group Therapy's pedal pub with a sign reading, "We Miss You, Randy!" and "Designated Drivers … Friends for Life."
Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Dan Zieg said Spicha made everyone on the road that night a pawn in his game of evading detection while driving drunk.
He must not be granted leniency because of his financial means or age, Zieg said. He asked Strong to sentence Spicha to a minimum of 12 years imprisonment.
Spicha didn't make any statements. Wearing a green shirt and jeans, he stared down for most of the hearing.
His attorney, John Ball, encouraged Strong to look at his case separately and note the law doesn't mandate prison for this crime.
"Many here today want to see an execution," said Ball, asking Strong to carefully consider what he has done since that day.
Spicha, who has no criminal history, has shown remorse and taken responsibility, Ball said.
He pleaded as charged, and he agreed to a civil settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Gibson family. The settlement amount hasn't been publicly disclosed.
Ball said his client carries the same anguish felt by the Gibson family.
"Mr. Spicha shares that anguish and shares it to such a profound degree that any sentence imposed by this court will simply be served concurrently to the imprisonment of his soul," Ball said.
The judge noted Spicha's military service and expressed her sympathies to the Gibson family, calling him a "truly remarkable person."
Ultimately, Strong said, she had to send Spicha to prison for what he did.
"You held the lives of everyone on the road that night in your hands," Strong said.
That was a crime, she said, and that night it was not victimless.
The judge gave him 12 to 14 years, with credit for one day served in jail, and revoked his driver's license for 15 years.
Sofia Gibson nodded in agreement to Zieg after Strong announced her sentence.
Spicha showed no emotion as sheriff's deputies surrounded him and handcuffed him.
And as they led him out of the courtroom, Randy's wife, Christine Gibson, embraced the prosecutor.
"Justice has been served," Sofia Gibson said.