LARGO — In court, Joshua West said he was sorry for what he did to Andrew Hall. Elsewhere, he has expressed much more concern for himself.
In April 2009, West was driving drunk without a valid license when he lost control of his speeding Honda Accord and hit Hall, 19, who was standing in front of his apartment in Safety Harbor. The impact tore Hall's left leg from his body and shattered his pelvis. Hall's plight touched a nerve with the public, which responded with fund-raisers to help with medical bills.
In February, West accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He apologized to Hall.
Hall said he doubted West's sincerity. The lead detective on the case said in reports that he never detected remorse from West, now 25.
Recently released recordings of telephone calls made to family and friends from jail reveal some of West's concerns. Here are excerpts:
May 18, 2009
West's grandmother tells him she's heard Hall will never walk again.
"That boy can't have an artificial limb, because there's no place to attach it. So he's … in a wheelchair the rest of his life. He'll never walk again."
West responds: "This kid was from the ghetto. He got all these funds (now)."
May 21, 2009
West's father tells him: "You've got to be sorry for what you have done."
West doesn't reply.
May 21, 2009
In a call to a friend, West says, "First of all, I wasn't driving." He later says his attorney may try to blame the crash on his passenger, Douglas Ziegler: "I don't think my lawyer wants Doug in court on Tuesday because I think he might want to blame this whole f------ thing on him."
May 31, 2009
West was on probation for drug charges when he struck Hall, and had recently been charged with violating that probation by driving recklessly. His mother references his recent court hearing on the probation violation.
"Two weeks after a judge sits there … and tries to give you five to 10 years and you know, you're all full of remorse and sorrow and everything, two weeks after that you take your car and you drink yourself blind a-- drunk, and you almost kill someone. Somebody else, some innocent person in their own front yard, that's what I think."
West replies "I don't know what you're talking about."
Sept. 26, 2009
West's girlfriend says that the case is worse because it involves "a handicapped kid."
West gloats over the media attention the accident has drawn: "I'm like an overnight celebrity."
Sept. 26, 2009
One of West's friends talks about the media attention the case has generated.
The friend says "The f------ press is all over this one. … Because it's such a sob story and s--t, they're just, they're eating it up."
West: "Yeah, dude, yeah …which is bad for me."
Sept. 30, 2009
In a conversation with his mother, West says, "All there are is people against me."
Oct. 23, 2009
West to his mom:
"What are the chances of somebody being outside, you know what I'm saying, when we lose control of the car at 1:30 in the morning. … That's just my luck."
Oct. 29, 2009
West says he wants to go to a drug rehab facility and talks to his mother about the possibility of receiving five years in prison. She tells him he's not likely to get probation.
"You're a f------ nutcase. I'm not doing five years in prison. When I get back up to prison, I'll f------ buck when I go to work. As soon as they put me outside the gate, I'll f------ leave."
Nov. 26, 2009
In a video recorded during a visit with his grandparents, West says Hall is "blessed" by people giving him money.
"He was a poor kid, he didn't have anything."
Dec. 4, 2009
"The victim's tripping," West says. "It's not as serious as it could have been."
Rita Farlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.