TAMPA — A judge has declined to reduce Cameron Herrin’s 24-year prison sentence for causing a 2018 crash that killed a mother and daughter on Bayshore Boulevard.
In an order released this week, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash rejected a request from Herrin’s defense lawyer, which centered on comments ousted State Attorney Andrew Warren made after the sentence was imposed.
Of particular focus was a voicemail Warren left attorney John Fitzgibbons a day after the April 2021 sentencing hearing, in which the prosecutor said he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by the sentence and called it “excessively harsh.”
Fitzgibbons said the judge should hear more about Warren’s views in a new hearing. The State Attorney’s Office, which is now led by Susan Lopez, fought to preserve the sentence, arguing that Warren’s comments were irrelevant.
Nash, in a five-page order, accepted as true Fitzgibbons’ account of Warren’s phone call, noting that Warren “criticized the very sentence his office had requested just one day earlier.” But the judge ultimately denied the bid for a lesser sentence.
An appeals court previously upheld Herrin’s sentence, which came after he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide charges in the deaths of Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt, 24, and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia.
With his legal options exhausted, the 23-year-old is set to remain in prison until he is in his early 40s.
Fitzgibbons expressed disappointment Thursday. He reiterated that Warren told him the sentence was “crazy” and “terrible.”
“But Warren didn’t have the moral fiber to tell the court what he really thought when he and his office asked for this very heavy sentence,” Fitzgibbons said. “And it’s pure hypocrisy, in my opinion.”
Warren, who is in the midst of a lawsuit challenging his Aug. 4 suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis, issued a statement echoing his previous public comments about the case.
“It’s no secret that I was surprised by the judge’s sentence because he went above the statutory guidelines,” the statement read. “But, at the end of the day, my job as state attorney was to hold the defendants accountable, to fight for the victims’ family, and to deliver the justice that Jessica and Lillia deserved, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The crash occurred May 23, 2018, along the iconic boulevard, recognizable for its 4-mile sidewalk and balustrade hugging Hillsborough Bay on one side, and its million-dollar homes and high-rises on the other.
Reisinger-Raubenolt was pushing her daughter in a stroller along the waterfront side when she moved to cross the roadway.
Herrin, then 18, was driving north on Bayshore in a Ford Mustang GT, which he’d received as a high school graduation present. John Barrineau, a 17-year-old friend, was driving near him in a Nissan Altima. Witnesses said the pair appeared to be racing.
The Mustang struck the mother and daughter as they entered the road. Police later pegged the car’s speed at 102 mph a few seconds before the collision.
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Barrineau in late 2020 pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide for his role in the crash. In an agreement with prosecutors, he received a six-year sentence.
Herrin also pleaded guilty, but his plea came with no guarantee about sentencing. State guidelines suggested a minimum of 18.5 years; Fitzgibbons asked the judge to impose a term less than that.
In a daylong sentencing hearing, which featured emotional testimony from the families, prosecutor Aaron Hubbard asked for a sentence between 18 and 30 years. The judge decided on 24 years. Warren attended the hearing.
In his bid for a new sentence, Fitzgibbon wrote that Warren later told him the 24-year term was too high and that a sentence in the range of 10-12 years would have been acceptable. Fitzgibbons also described a series of attempts he made to negotiate a deal with the state before Herrin’s guilty plea, including offers to cap the sentence at 10 years, 15 years and 18 years, which the state rejected.
In a statement Thursday, Warren said Fitzgibbons’ account didn’t make sense. He claimed that he was “misrepresenting or misremembering” their conversation.
“It doesn’t change the fact that two lives were tragically lost, two more lives were forever ruined, and we did our duty to hold the defendants accountable and deliver justice for Jessica and Lillia,” the statement read.
Fitzgibbons responded that he took notes of their discussion.
“Warren has done everything he can not to participate in a hearing where I can question him under oath about these statements,” Fitzgibbons said. “So what is he afraid of?”