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Man gets 7 years in fatal Ocoee hit-and-run

Lastevie Howard pleads guilty in connection with death of Aubrey Clark

OCOEE, Fla. – A man accused of hitting and killing a 10-year-old girl while she was riding her bike in Ocoee last year was sentenced Thursday after he accepted a plea deal last month.

A judge sentenced LaStevie Howard to seven years in jail after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash with death, and leaving the scene with serious bodily injury.

"We get to kind of take a step forward now, instead of the ones backwards we've been taking," Aubrey's father, Danny Clark said.

Danny Clark said he feels "OK" with the sentencing, adding it's not the maximum penalty, but it's not the minimum either.

"Let's hope we all kind of move on, try to rebuild, get our lives back together," he said. "This is over now, today's over."

During the day long hearing, the state and defense called witnesses and victims to share their impact statements.

Ocoee police said Howard was driving an SUV in January 2015 on Clarke Road near Silver Star Road when his vehicle hit Aubrey and her classmate, who were riding their bikes home from school.

Aubrey was seriously hurt. The other child suffered minor injuries.

After she spent two weeks in the hospital fighting for her life, Aubrey's family decided to take her off life support.

Police released red-light camera video that they said showed Howard driving about a half-mile after the crash, passing up a chance to return to the site of the wreck.

Howard's lawyer told News 6 that Howard did return to the crash site within two minutes of the accident and prayed over the little girl.

Aubrey's best friend who was with her the day of the accident wrote a letter to the court. The young boy was too upset to read it himself.

"I miss playing with Aubrey and riding my bike with her," the letter said.

Howard also took the stand himself. He spoke directly to the Clark family and told them he is a remorseful man who is very sorry for what happened.

"My heart goes out to you. I truly can't say anything better to compensate your feelings," Howard said. "I can't imagine what you're going through. I pray for you and your family every night."

Howard was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by Orange County deputies.

Aubrey's father questioned the sincerity of Howard's apology.

"To make an apology a little more than a year-and-a-half later, I don't know how sincere it is or how remorseful he may have been," Danny Clark said. "He had plenty of chances to say sorry at the very least."

The sentencing calls for Howard to serve seven years for each count he plead guilty to, but they will run concurrently. He must serve a minimum of four years, the judge said.

The judge said it was one of the most difficult cases to address in terms of sentencing.
 

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Pictures of a smiling Aubrey Clark are posted on her parents' Facebook page, "Aubrey's Angels." They show her as a 10-year-old girl. Her family wrote that she is "missed every second of every single day."

Ocoee police said Howard was driving an SUV in January 2015 on Clarke Road near Silver Star Road when his vehicle hit Aubrey and her classmate, who were riding their bikes home from school.

Aubrey was seriously hurt. The other child suffered minor injuries.

After she spent two weeks in the hospital fighting for her life, Aubrey's family decided to take her off life support.

Police released red-light camera video that they said showed Howard driving about a half-mile after the crash, passing up a chance to return to the site of the wreck.

Howard's lawyer told News 6 that Howard did return to the crash site, claiming that the father of four knew it was a serious accident.

During the sentencing on Thursday, Howard expressed remorse and said he prayed for the Clark family because he is a father.

"I've waited for this day since the day of the accident," he said about receiving his sentence.