Adrian David Rodriguez stood in a courtroom Tuesday, pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter, and received a sentence of 10 years in prison, plus five years of probation.
That wasn't the part that reduced him to tears.
It was right afterward, when Terri Holly also was allowed to stand in the courtroom, look him in the eyes and show him a photograph.
"I just want you to see my son," she said, holding up the photo. She asked him to take it to prison, "so that you will know how hard this is for you, for me, and for your mom and dad."
Christopher Holly, 28, was killed when Rodriguez drunkenly smashed into his car in October 2012. Holly was an avid bowler with a famously weird throw and dozens of friends. He was a service manager for a Clearwater area car dealership.
Holly was making a U-turn on U.S. 19 when Rodriguez's car smashed into his. Rodriguez had just come from the Freaky Tiki bar, so drunk that police officers who happened to be at the bar tried to stop him from leaving the parking lot. His blood alcohol was later measured at 0.25, more than three times the level at which someone is presumed intoxicated under Florida law.
"Losing your child is a mother's worst nightmare," Terri Holly told Rodriguez on Tuesday, adding that she would never get to dance at her son's wedding or enjoy his children.
"I will never feel another hug," she said. "Those are gifts that a mother gets so much joy from."
At her words, Rodriguez, 35, of Massachusetts, wept openly. He was not alone. Others in the courtroom, some with no connection to the case, also cried.
"He always told me he would be there for me, not to worry, I'll take care of you for the rest of your life," Terri Holly said. "He always helped me whenever I needed anything, emotionally or financially."
Then it was Rodriguez's turn. He already had been sentenced under a plea agreement, so his words had no impact on the length of his punishment.
His voice broke as he tearfully apologized. "I never intended to hurt anyone in my life ... my heart goes out to his loved ones." He added, "I hate myself for what I have done."
He thanked Morton Plant Hospital counselors, Alcoholics Anonymous and others for helping in his struggle with alcoholism.
And he said: "I'm sorry, Christopher. ... I wish it was me. I really wish it was me."
Contact Curtis Krueger at email@example.com or (727) 892-8232. Follow @ckruegertimes.