BROOKSVILLE — A 24-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of vehicular homicide in connection with a June 2008 wreck that killed his girlfriend.
Authorities said Joshua L. Roeder of 16130 Melbourne St., south of Brooksville, was driving north and speeding in his Chevy Lumina on Mariner Boulevard near Casa Grande Circle in Spring Hill in the early-morning hours of June 9, 2008, when he attempted to pass another northbound vehicle.
Roeder's vehicle left the roadway, spun out of control, crossed the center median and southbound lanes of Mariner, and struck the barrier wall that surrounds the Seven Hills development.
Dana Marie Lyons, 20, of Spring Hill and her 1-year-old son, Owen, were passengers in Roeder's car. Lyons died in the wreck and Owen was injured.
Roeder was also critically injured in the crash. Blood tests showed Roeder was not impaired at the time of the accident.
Prosecutors accused Roeder of instigating a high-speed chase around the county with another vehicle that was being driven by his former girlfriend.
Roeder "willfully participated in high-speed, reckless kind of behavior," prosecutor Bill Catto said Monday. "Whether or not the other vehicle initiated it, in either theory, (Roeder) would still be liable for his actions. … (Lyons) was stuck in his car and wasn't involved in it in any way."
Last week, days before his trial was scheduled to start, Roeder agreed to the plea, which includes a 10-year prison sentence and a dismissal of three other criminal charges.
Roeder had been charged with reckless driving causing serious bodily injury in the accident, and was on probation for charges of felony battery and dealing in stolen property. He will also receive credit for the 16 months he has already served in county jail.
"I thought it was a fairly good case for trial," said Roeder's lawyer, assistant public defender Devon Sharkey. "With those violation of probation cases pending, I concluded it was too large a risk to take to trial."
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.