NEW PORT RICHEY — Samuel Lively Stockdale was high on meth and had no license when he slammed head-on into a semitrailer truck in a wreck that killed his friend.
That happened in June 2006 in Shady Hills.
The justice system's sanctions came Thursday afternoon in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Thane Covert.
Stockdale, 23, of Shady Hills pleaded no contest to DUI manslaughter and got eight years in prison, two years of house arrest and five years of probation in an emotional hearing that at times was a kind of conversation about forgiveness between the defendant and the mother of the victim.
"I don't like myself anymore," Stockdale said on the stand.
He said he wouldn't forgive himself, ever, and that he wishes it would've been him who died that day.
On June 27, 2006, in the middle of the afternoon, Stockdale was driving a stolen 2004 Chevy Cavalier north on Rogerland Road in Shady Hills when he crossed the center line and into the path of an oncoming truck. Quintin Lee Knox, 22, of Brooksville died at the scene. Knox was a mechanic who was an honor student in elementary school and played junior varsity football at Hernando High.
Stockdale testified Thursday that he was born in Louisville, Ky., to a drug-addicted mother and an alcoholic father.
He was in and out of foster homes as a boy.
He was arrested for the first time when he was 12. His criminal record at this point is considerable: grand theft, resisting arrest, failure to appear in court, possession of meth, marijuana and cocaine — and this latest, most serious charge.
His attorney asked him Thursday what he would change about his life.
"Everything," he said.
He had no family in the courtroom.
"My whole life."
He told the members of the Knox family how sorry he was. He used his handcuffed hands to pull up the top of his orange and white jail jumpsuit shirt to cover his eyes.
Judge Covert read out loud a letter Stockdale had written to the family.
"I hate myself," he had written.
Then Knox's mother took the stand.
"I want you to understand," Deborah Melgarejo told Stockdale. "The cost to me is not replaceable. But the best advice I can give you is to forgive yourself. And I really want you to try to forgive yourself."
Michael Kruse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.