NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Betty Jo Tagerson, who crashed her car into kids playing in a neighbor's front yard, killing one of a set of triplets, was sentenced to 160 months in jail, just over 13 years.
There were months of heartache over the death of 5-year-old Delaney Rossman. Then a trial in January, where the surviving triplets took the stand. "I remember I saw her laying down on the grass, she wouldn't breathe."
Betty Jo Tagerson was found guilty of recklessly running down a group of girls in Hudson a year and half ago. Prosecutors said Tagerson lost control of her jeep after an argument with her boyfriend.
Tuesday she came to court for sentencing, and asked for mercy. "I cannot stop thinking about the little girl that lost her life that tragic day," said Tagerson.
Tagerson's mother, Theresa Ambrowsky, said when her daughter found out Delaney was dead, she was suicidal. "She just went hysterical crying, and just kept saying 'no, no.'"
Delaney's mother, Danielle Malm, asked the judge for the maximum possible sentence, 25 years. "She'll get to see her children thrive and be happy. They'll get to visit her on holidays and birthdays. And days like that in our lives will always be painful."
After hearing from both sides, Judge Michael Andrews took just minutes to sentence Tagerson to a little more than 13 years in prison.
Saying because she had no prior criminal history and wasn't under the influence, he would not give her the maximum time behind bars.
"In the end, she was someone who succumbed to her anger, which unfortunately caused the death of that beautiful, bubbly child," Said Judge Andrews.
She didn't get her wish, but Delaney's mother said she leaves the courtroom and this horrible chapter of her life feeling content.
"I still feel like she has not taken responsibility. But at least she'll be held accountable now."Tagerson was found guilty in January of vehicular homicide, culpable negligence manslaughter and two counts of reckless driving with serious injury. The vehicular homicide charge had been vacated.
The maximum sentence she could have gotten was 25 years.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, on November 5, 2010, Tagerson peeled out her front yard after an argument and almost immediately lost control of her Jeep.
Investigators say Tagerson hit a mail box and ran into a group of young girls playing in a neighbor's yard. The group included 5-year-old triplet sisters, Delaney, Gabrielle and Isabella Rossman. Their older sister, 10-year-old Victoria was also there.
Delaney later died, Gabrielle was seriously injured. The other girls escaped with minor scrapes and bruises.
Tagerson testified that she blacked out in the Jeep and doesn't remember anything that happened.
But medical experts who took the stand during the trial said she showed no signs of any such problems that would cause blackouts.
The prosecution says Tagerson's Jeep was not fit to drive. They say the driver's side door was broken and normally had a bungee cord attached to keep it closed.
They say Tagerson drove off in such a hurry she did not put the bungee cord on. They told the jury she was trying to prevent the door from opening with her arm and that helped cause her to lose control.
Investigators also say she was going about 5 miles over the 30 mile per hour speed limit.
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