Saturday, May 26, 2018
News Roundup

Driver who killed St. Petersburg couple gets 40 years in prison

LARGO — Anthony Apollo Neeley, found guilty in June of driving while impaired and fatally striking a St. Petersburg couple as they headed home after Thanksgiving dinner in 2014, was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison.

"I cannot imagine a driving case, a case involving alcohol, driving and deaths, that could be much more aggravating than the facts of this case," Pinellas Circuit Judge Philip Federico said before imposing the sentence. "If there is, I haven't heard it yet."

About 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2014, a Neeley, driving a Porsche sport utility vehicle, ran a red light at the intersection of 58th Street and Central Avenue and slammed into Marjorie Sutherland's Nissan Quest as she drove to pick up a friend for Thanksgiving dinner.

She suffered minor injuries and pulled off the road. But Neeley continued east.

Twenty-four blocks from the initial collision, Neeley, speeding at more than 100 mph, slammed into a Toyota Corolla on 34th Street, St. Petersburg police said.

Doug Simpson, 64, and his wife, Christina Simpson, 53, died instantly.

During his trial, prosecutors described the crash as an "explosion" and said Neeley, now 33, had a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.10, which is higher than the 0.08 level at which Florida law presumes someone is impaired.

On Friday, Neeley spoke briefly: "I just want to say I'm terribly sorry for what happened. If not now, then maybe later, the Simpson family and Miss Marjorie will find it in their hearts to forgive me."

Neeley was convicted on two counts of DUI manslaughter, two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury. The vehicular homicide charges were dismissed because under Florida law, a defendant cannot be sentenced for that charge as well as DUI manslaughter.

Sutherland, who still suffers from knee and back pain from the crash, addressed the court Friday.

"Your attorney said I did not suffer injuries," she told Neeley. "I will never heal from that emotional pain that is in my mind. Drinking and driving is a deadly weapon. … You robbed the Simpsons of their life, you robbed their families and friends, you robbed yours."

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