Sentencing delayed in Turkey Lake DUI death

2-year-old Isabella Zepka hit, killed in 2009

Isabella Zepka.
Isabella Zepka.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A drunken driver convicted of hitting and killing a girl with his car in Orange County will remain free after his sentencing hearing was continued.

John Molnar pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter two months ago and faces up to 15 years in prison.

In 2009, Molnar, who investigators said was drunk and had ingested cocaine, ran a stop sign near Turkey Lake Road in Orlando. He then crashed into a rental car that was carrying a family vacationing from North Carolina. Two-year-old Isabella Zepka was injured in the crash, and she was taken off life support a few days later.

"I saw Isabella's body, I had a feeling Isabella was no longer with us," said Elizabeth Manzanilla, Isabella's mother. "It is not easy for me to hold this picture. I want to show you this was my little princess, Isabella."

Isabella's older brother, who's now 12-years-old, suffered a cracked skull in the crash. He took the stand at Molnar's sentencing hearing and described how his injuries and the death of his sister impacted the family.

"Do you know what it feels like to have someone so close to you die, and you know they won't come back?" Alexander said.

Molnar's attorney called several of his client's friends and family members to the stand, hoping to get his punishment reduced.

"John has expressed to me on many occasions he wished God had spared Isabella and took him instead," said his brother, Roger Molnar.

Supporters said in the three years since the deadly crash, Molnar has gotten married and had two kids, including one who died just hours after birth. He has undergone rehab and almost daily counseling and has turned his life around, friends say.

"I know John will never dishonor his family or the life he took by giving in to his addictions again," said Molnar's friend, Carmen Viscosi.

Because of a paperwork mix-up involving the pre-sentence investigation, the hearing was abruptly halted and continued until Oct. 12. Molnar will remain free under the conditions of his release. He will have the chance to plead for a lighter sentence then.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.