NEW PORT RICHEY — Brittany Miles raised her head and looked across the courtroom at the deputy she hurt. The two women are nearly the same age. Miles is 22. Pasco Deputy Ashley Grady is 24. Miles' attorney had told her not to talk to Grady until now, when it was all over. On Tuesday, Miles asked for forgiveness.
"I wanted to tell you I am sorry for what happened," Miles said. "I did not mean to hurt you and I am sorry and I just want you to know that."
On May 10, 2011, Miles was a 21-year-old stripper high on prescription drugs when she escaped from Grady's patrol car during a DUI stop in Hudson. Miles jumped into her truck as Grady, in close pursuit, climbed onto the sideboard. Miles sped off with Grady clinging on. Grady said Miles shoved her out of the truck at 70 mph, sending her onto U.S. 19, crumpled with a head injury and a broken leg. Miles continued north, leading deputies on a 100-mph chase that ended with Miles' truck hitting and killing a Hernando motorcyclist, Henry McCain, authorities said.
Miles will have a trial in Hernando County next year for McCain's death.
In the Pasco portion of the chase, she was convicted last month of battery on a law enforcement officer, escape, fleeing and eluding, and DUI.
Tuesday was her sentencing. According to guidelines, she faced anywhere from 25 months to 35 years in prison.
"I am just asking for a second chance," Miles pleaded, weeping. "That's it. I made a mistake. I messed up."
Circuit Judge Michael Andrews sentenced her to 15 years.
"At some point, you will get out," he told Miles. "Hopefully, it will be an opportunity for you to start all over again and do it differently next time."
Miles and her relatives say she was a compassionate person and a good mother to her young son before she was in a car accident that led to a prescription pill addiction.
"No matter how you raise somebody, their values, everything goes out the window at that point," her mother, Debra Miles, said on the stand as she asked for mercy for her daughter.
"The pills kind of, on a molecular level, they rewire the system on how you think," she said.
Brittany Miles' father also asked for leniency.
"If you could give her a chance to right herself I am sure she would make a positive out of this, sir," Edward Miles told Andrews. "You learn from your experiences. This was a very bad experience for her and our family."
On the day of the fatal crash, Miles told deputies she had had seven drinks; a drug test later determined she had oxycodone and Xanax in her system. She testified that while in the back of Grady's cruiser, she swallowed a handful of Xanax she'd hidden inside her underwear. Miles testified she got one hand free from her handcuffs and reached through the cruiser's window — which had been rolled down for deputies to speak with Miles — to open the door.
"I know that there were mistakes on my part with how she escaped," Grady testified. But, Grady said, Miles knew the rules. She turned what could have been a few hours in jail on a DUI charge into a deadly rampage.
"She knew that she was under arrest," Grady said. "She knew that she was not free to leave and she took the law into her own hands and, because of it, lives were taken."
Grady still suffers dizziness and leg pain. She said Miles' remorse is because she has been forced to become sober in jail.
"I gave her plenty of opportunities to pull over the vehicle, to stop, to save both of our lives and she fought with me on that," Grady said. "She chose that decision — not the drugs."
Miles' relatives declined to speak with reporters after the court proceedings.
"We can live with what happened," Miles' attorney, Robert Rawlins, said of the sentence, "and we will fight Hernando when it comes."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.