A 21-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to a year he’s already served in county jail along with three years probation for a hit-and-run crash that killed a 5-year-old boy outside the child’s South Los Angeles home last year.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mildred Escobedo also ordered Homer Watford to pay $7,500 in restitution to the family of Ronald Neal, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The 5-year-old boy ran into the roadway and was struck by a sport utility vehicle being driven westbound on 82nd Street toward Towne Avenue at about 5:10 p.m. March 14, 2017, authorities said.
The boy died at the hospital from blunt head trauma, according to records from the coroner’s office.
Watford surrendered at the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Area station a day after the deadly crash, and told police he had been driving the vehicle, according to a police statement.
His green 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe was found in the 2300 block of Third Avenue and had collision damage consistent with what was seen in video from a nearby security camera, according to police.
The boy’s father told KTLA that Watford — whom he described as a childhood friend — had apologized to the boy’s mother before turning himself in to police.
The boy’s uncle, Antoine Smith, told the TV station that Watford had tearfully apologized to the family and said that the young man had said he didn’t realize he had struck the boy until seeing the security camera video on the news.
Family members led a candlelight vigil in the boy’s memory after his death.
Watford pleaded no contest last Nov. 15 to one felony count of hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person and one misdemeanor count of driving when his privilege was suspended or revoked after a prior offense, and he was taken into custody then to begin serving his term.
He was released from custody hours after being sentenced, jail records show.
Watford had been facing a potential maximum sentence of more than four years in state prison if convicted as charged, and Deputy District Attorney Stefana Antonescu objected to the term that was imposed, according to the District Attorney’s Office.