Man sentenced in 2016 crash that killed 29-year-old father in Guadalupe County
Victim's family calls sentence too lenient, defense attorney says it's too harsh
SAN ANTONIO – It's been almost 3 1/2 years since 29-year-old Brian Fugate II was killed in a drunken driving crash. Eric Hackney was driving the truck that hit Fugate and was charged with manslaughter. On Wednesday, his sentence was handed down.
Hackney received 10 years deferred adjudication in lieu of a conviction and 160 days in jail. After 10 years' probation, his charges will be dismissed if there are no violations.
Fugate's parents are disappointed in the sentence but relieved knowing the lengthy judicial process is finally over.
"The peace that I get is not having to come back here anymore. I still don't have my son. His boys still don't have their dad," said Brian Fugate Sr., Brian Fugate II's father.
Around 5:30 a.m. Feb. 16, Brian Fugate II was driving to work when Hackney's truck swerved into his lane and hit him head-on, killing him.
Hackney's attorney, Joseph Hoelscher, said after his client serves the 160 days in jail, he will enter a cognitive program for a traumatic brain injury Hackney received from the accident.
"Eric is effectively disabled at this point because of his traumatic brain injury. He has short-term memory loss. He has cognitive deficiencies he's still dealing with, which is why we thought the jail sentence was inappropriate," Hoelscher said.
Brian Fugate II's father, however, still believes the punishment was too lenient.
"I just believe he didn't want to go to jail. We've never seen any remorse in him," Fugate Sr. said.
"I'm doing my best to forgive him. I'll never forget what he did, but I don't hate him. I think it's good that every year for the next 10 years, every Feb. 16 at 5:45 a.m., he has to go to jail for 24 hours," said Louise Blankenship, Brian Fugate II's mother.
That annual day in jail is the last piece of Hackney's sentence, and the Fugate family is pleased with it.
"It's a constant reminder that he'll be able to look at and remember what he did," Fugate Sr. said.
Fugate's family has remained frustrated for years as their son's case kept getting pushed back and rescheduled.
Hoelscher said Wednesday that it's common for a case to take 3 1/2 years to go to court.
"A very typical delay. If you think of a case where somebody died, murder cases take a long time and so do manslaughters," Hoelscher said.
Now, families on both sides are just trying to move on.
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