Life sentence given to man who hit family, killing teen

Gloria Gomez reports

- Home video of 14-year-old David Martinez celebrating his 14th birthday - with cake, candles and his family singing Happy Birthday - filled a Tampa courtroom ahead of the sentencing for a man convicted in relation to the boy's death.

That birthday would be David's last. In January of 2015, David and his family were driving along a busy Tampa intersection when D'Angelo Howard, a four-time convicted felon slammed into their mini van.

David was thrown from the car and died at the scene. Five other family members suffered serious injuries.

At Howard's sentencing, there was visible heartbreak from David's older sister, Veronica Martinez.

"Despite all my injuries my broken heart hurts the most," explained a tearful Veronica.

David's mother also had trouble containing her sorrow.

"No words can describe the pain, but I have to go on in this world without him, even though at times I don't want to go on. I want to go with him," said Mrs. Martinez.

And David's father, Albert was in aguish as he relived the day his son died for the courtroom.

"I remember stepping out of the van, and the first person I saw was my son, right in front of me... he was dead... he was gone," said Martinez

But despite the hurt and heartache David's death caused his family, some spoke of forgiveness.

"I hope that you know that I truly forgive you. It's been the hardest thing," said David's cousin, Natalie Loya.

Prosecutors say a year before the crash, Howard racked up drug charges and traffic violations. His license was suspended and he was considered a habitual traffic offender.

After years of trouble, Howard asked for forgiveness, but did not take full responsibility for his actions.

"I'm sorry to the Martinez family. I never meant for this to happen. I was drugged. Somebody drugged me and, just sorry for the pain and suffering ya'll been going through," Howard said.

For Hillsborough Circuit Judge Lisa Campbell, his words were not enough to overcome his record and the young life he took.

"The sentence that is appropriate in this case is life in prison," she said.

Howard had no visible reaction to the sentence.

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