TAMPA — On her route, bus driver Nona Pearson passes the stretch of Plant City road where her 28-year-old son was killed. She sees the cross. She remembers his blood. She thinks about the teenage boy who caused the crash and left Charles to die.
She went to the courthouse Monday to see him sentenced, ready to tell Dallas Duane Davis, now 18, what it felt like to be her.
"Dallas," she told the tall, slim, crying man in the suit, "you should've just come to the house that night and killed me, because that's just what you've done to me. I have hardly nothing left."
The early morning of Sept. 6, 2008, Charles Pearson and his girlfriend, Lisa Vaught, were driving home when they slowed to allow the car ahead to turn.
Davis, coming up along U.S. 92 with three friends in his mother's car, rammed into the back of Pearson's truck going what prosecutors estimate was 60 mph. Without seat belts, Pearson and Vaught were ejected.
Davis' car came to rest 1,000 feet away. He left no skid marks. He didn't call 911 or flag down a car. As he and his friends left on foot, he saw an ambulance, called by someone else.
In the hospital, Mrs. Pearson remembered a conversation she had with her son when he was 16 and had just gotten his driver's license. He told her he wanted to be an organ donor.
"How could you see your way to heaven if your eyes are donated?" she joked with him.
Four people received his kidneys, his liver and his heart.
Vaught, now 23, awoke in the hospital with lacerations to her shoulders, arms and leg, fluid in her abdomen, a fractured spine and an injured heart.
Davis swore he didn't see the other car or the ejected passengers on the dark road. He also swore he didn't drink that night, though a friend said he saw him.
He called his mother, Karen Davis, and told her he had been in an accident. He said the other car had taken off, she testified. She didn't call 911. She didn't ask if he did. Instead, fearing her son would get in trouble for driving past curfew, she said she reported the car stolen.
Assistant State Attorney Barbara Coleman said there wasn't enough evidence to charge her.
On Monday, Mrs. Davis admitted the false report. "I made a bad judgment call," she said. "I lied."
Dallas Davis pleaded guilty last month to leaving the scene of a crash with death. As part of a deal, prosecutors said they would ask for him to be sentenced as a youthful offender, capping any possible prison time to six years.
On Monday, Coleman asked for four years in prison followed by two on probation. Davis' attorney Ty Trayner asked for probation, saying Davis was so depressed he attempted suicide. He said Davis just graduated from high school and wanted to graduate from Hillsborough Community College.
Circuit Judge Denise A. Pomponio told Davis he would have to put that on hold for a year he will spend in jail. She withheld adjudication, meaning he won't be labeled a convicted felon, and also sentenced him to six years' probation. If he violates that, he could face 30 years in prison.
Before he was sentenced, Davis said he was sorry. Mrs. Pearson doesn't think he's remorseful now, but wants him to write her a letter when he gets out of jail.
She wants him to spend the year thinking about what to say.
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3354.