A man pleads no contest in the 2008 death of a teen who as a toddler had lost her mother in a DUI crash.
Published March 12, 2011|Updated March 16, 2011

William Brooks stood shackled before a crowded and silent courtroom. His voice trembled as he spoke to the man whose daughter he killed more than two years ago.

"I just hope this brings you closure with everything" said Brooks, as Daniel Moran stood a few feet away with his arms crossed.

"There's not a day that goes by," Brooks added, "that I don't think about everything that's happened."

Wearing thin-framed glasses and a short haircut, the 40-year-old pleaded no contest Friday to the charge of DUI manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison, with 541 days of time served credited to the term.

On Sept. 24, 2008, authorities say the Spring Hill man was driving east on Hexam Road when his 2007 Mitsubishi pickup drifted across the center line and slammed head-on into Jenna Marie Moran's 1992 Nissan Maxima.

Jenna Moran, 16, was a junior at Central High School. She was seriously injured in the accident and died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa the next day.

The plea offer, which Moran agreed to, resulted from Brooks' blood test that revealed he had a legal medication for which he had a prescription - but no alcohol - in his system at the time of the crash.

"Oh, he killed Jenna," a young woman sitting in the courtroom's second row whispered to her friend as the terms of the deal were explained. "He only got five years."

As prosecutor Bill Catto described the incident, Moran sat on the front row of Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing's courtroom and covered his face.

Minutes earlier, with two bailiffs standing between him and Brooks, Moran told the court that he also lost his wife in a car accident when Jenna was a toddler. At the time of his wife's solo crash, he said, she was drunk.

He wanted to say more, to tell Brooks and everyone else in the courtroom about the popular, energetic girl he raised by himself.

But as Rushing consoled him, only a few words came.

"She was my baby," Moran said of his daughter. "I miss her so much."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at 352-848-1432 or