A 33-year-old man who pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter for running over a pedestrian while high on methamphetamine in Buena Park was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.
had been expected to receive a 17-year sentence under the terms of the plea deal reached on Friday. But Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald changed his mind after hearing impassioned pleas from the victim’s sons, who noted a prior judge had offered Pike a 19-year deal.
Pike wiped tears from his eyes as the brothers spoke about how the Feb. 23, 2014, death of their mother, Angela Clayton, affected them.
“For us, these two extra years are huge,” Travis Davis told Fitzgerald. “Please, your honor, use the other judge’s mercy of 19 years. That would make us feel better.”
The victim’s other son, James Radovich Jr., told the judge of his service in the U.S. Army for about seven years, including a two-year tour of duty in Afghanistan.
“My mom would pray for me and tell me how worried she was for me and my safety,” Radovich Jr. said. “I never prayed for her safety because I didn’t think I needed to. I thought my mom was safe in the country and way of life I felt I was fighting to preserve. But I was wrong.”
Radovich, who earned a Purple Heart for carrying a wounded fellow soldier to safety, told the judge that he had been in the midst of “35 documented close-range firefights, seen and aided in the capture and or death of multiple enemy combatants, applied first aid to coalition forces… (and) I also had to endure the death of four men in my platoon.
“But with everything that I had seen and done, there was always a purpose behind what everyone — enemy or friendly — was doing,” he said. “My mom was killed for no reason at all.”
Pike was high on meth and speeding in his Ford Explorer on La Palma Avenue in downtown Buena Park when he blew through a red light about 7 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2014, and the SUV slammed into Clayton, 45, and six vehicles.
Clayton was shopping for paint for a crib she intended to make for her grandson, who had not yet been born, her sons said. She couldn’t find the right color at one department store and was walking across the street to another shop when she was run over, they said.
“The last thing I told her was you don’t have to paint one, we’ll just buy one, but she wanted to make one,” Davis said. “My last words to her were I love you and talk to you soon.”
After the hearing, Davis said, “I am so happy the judge was able to listen to us. It makes me happy that the criminal justice system listens to us.”
— Wire reports