TAMPA — A young woman who left the scene of a fatal accident, but then returned, will not go to prison.
Amanda Bentz, 21, was sentenced to five years' probation Tuesday after accepting a plea deal that downgraded her charge from a first-degree felony, leaving the scene of a crash with death, to a third-degree felony, leaving the scene of a crash with injury.
Bentz pleaded no contest.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta withheld adjudication, meaning Bentz is not a felon. She and her father declined to comment after the hearing.
This summer, Bentz told the St. Petersburg Times she thought about the crash every day. On the night of March 7, she hit a pedestrian on Waters Avenue near Grady Avenue and drove off. She returned with her dad an hour later, but Billy Ivy, 42, was dead.
Assistant State Attorney Barbara Coleman said Ivy's mother, who did not attend Tuesday's hearing, agreed with the sentence. But Ivy's ex-wife, Dawn Eubanks, told the judge she thought the downgraded injury charge was outrageous.
Bentz's attorney, Kim Seace, said the young woman believed it was in her best interest to accept the offer.
"Ms. Bentz did not realize she hit a person," Seace said. "And when she did, she responded back and she cooperated with law enforcement 100 percent."
State Attorney's Office spokesman Mark Cox said prosecutors knew Bentz had not been drinking before the crash. Her return to the scene helped them arrive at the plea deal.
Ivy's mother, Ethel Braunsdorf, said she doesn't think prison would do Bentz any good. She just wants Bentz to take responsibility for what happened.
She doesn't think Bentz will ever forget this.
She doesn't want her to.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3354.