A man was sentenced Tuesday to three years in state prison for a hit-and-run crash that killed the 76-year-old pastor of an Inglewood church last fall.

Shauntrell Darnell Matthews, 42, pleaded no contest July 2 to charges stemming from the Oct. 29 crash in South Los Angeles.

Herman Charles Avery Jr. of Inglewood — the pastor of Progressive Community Missionary Baptist Church — was crossing Western Avenue at 81st Street, heading west, when he was struck.

Matthews, who was free on bail at the time in a pending gun case, fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle nearby. He surrendered to Los Angeles police three days later and was released after posting a $50,000 bond.

He apologized in court to the victim’s family for what occurred and said he never meant for it to happen.

The victim’s eldest granddaughter, who was living with the pastor at the time, said through tears that she was the first person to get the news about his death and that “it still really hurts.”

“I forgive you for taking my grandfather,” she said, speaking directly to the defendant.

Charles Scipio, a church deacon, also told the defendant, “For most of us, we have already forgiven you.” But Scipion, who called Avery a “pillar in the community,” questioned why Matthews “just didn’t stay and face the consequences” of his actions.

“It’s hard to stand here today. In this situation, I feel no one wins,” he said.

Superior Court Judge Craig E. Veals said there was no evidence to suggest that Matthews was reckless or wanton in his driving.

“It’s what he did afterward,” Veals said, noting that the pastor “happened to be in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time.”

Directing his remarks at the defendant, the judge said: “You simply can’t leave the scene under circumstances such as these. What you did, Mr. Matthews, is completely inexplicable.”

The judge said he did not think that Matthews is a bad person, but said he needs to be punished for what he did.

“We can’t allow this sort of behavior, plain and simple …,” the judge said, noting at the end of the hearing that he wanted to offer his “sincere condolences” to the victim’s family.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Przelomiec said he believed Matthews was aware authorities were “hot on his trail” when he surrendered last Nov. 1, and that the defendant had to “answer for the consequences of his actions.”

Defense attorney Adam M. Koppekin called what had happened “incredibly tragic,” saying that his client was concerned about his 7-year-old son who was in the vehicle with him as people clamored about the scene of the crash.

“His remorse is sincere. I don’t believe he’s putting on an act for the court … I don’t believe him to be a bad person,” his attorney said.

Matthews’ attorney called for a lesser term of two years in prison, but the judge opted for the three-year term requested by the prosecution.

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