TAMPA, Fla. - The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office says convicted street racer Cameron Herrin should not have his 24-year sentence reduced for the Bayshore Boulevard crash that killed a mother and her baby in 2018, despite critical comments made by then-state attorney Andrew Warren.
In August, defense attorney John Fitzgibbons submitted transcripts of conversations he had with Warren in the days following the sentencing in an appeal for a lower sentence.
In a voicemail sent a day after Herrin was sentenced to 24 years in prison, Warren said he was "surprised and even disappointed by the sentence," which he called "excessively harsh".
"Mr. Warren further stated that he thought a 10-12 year sentence would have been appropriate and specifically stated that a 10-year sentence would be ‘OK,'" Fitzgibbons wrote in his appeal.
In their response filed Thursday, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office, now under the purview of state attorney Susie Lopez, argued Warren's personal opinions weren't relevant to the appeal. The state also pointed out that despite comments Warren made in private after the sentencing, his office had advocated for an 18 to 30-year sentence.
"Mr. Warren’s post-sentencing personal statements have zero value to the Court’s sound discretion to impose sentence on a Defendant who killed two innocent people," the state attorney's office wrote. "Instead of allowing Defendant to relitigate these issues and further victimize Jessica and Lillia’s family, this Court should again decline to deviate downward and uphold Defendant’s sentence."
In August, Governor Ron DeSantis removed Warren from office under accusations of being soft on crime and having violated his oath of office. In a press conference following his suspension, Warren was asked about Herrin's appeal and the assertion that he supported a lower sentence for the now 22-year-old.
"It's no secret that I was surprised by the judge's sentence because he went above the statutory guidelines, but at the end of the day, my job as state attorney was to hold the defendants accountable, to fight for the victim's family, and to deliver the justice that Jessica and Lillia deserved and that's exactly what we did," said Warren.
Beyond calling Warren's statements irrelevant to the appeal, the state also pointed out in its response that Warren, at no time, raised official objections to Herrin's sentence.
"Mr. Warren never spoke on the record nor made an appearance in Court on behalf of the State of Florida during Defendant Herrin’s case. Neither the State of Florida nor Mr. Warren objected to the sentence the Court imposed. Despite invitations to do so, neither the State of Florida nor Mr. Warren joined in any post-sentencing motions or petitions Defendant Herrin sought regarding his sentence," wrote the state attorney's office wrote.
In June, an appeals court upheld the 24-year sentence. Fitzgibbons says this is Herrin's "final opportunity" for a modified sentence.
In May 2018, Jessica Raubenolt and her one-year-old daughter Lillia were killed on Bayshore Boulevard.
Herrin and fellow Tampa Catholic High School student John Barrineau -- now both in their 20s -- were racing on the street – popular for its picturesque trail along the Hillsborough Bay. Jessica was crossing the road, pushing her 20-month-old daughter in a stroller when Herrin slammed into her in a new Ford Mustang, a recent graduation present. Raubenolt died instantly and baby Lillia died a day later.
Barrineau cut a deal with the state in exchange for his cooperation and was sentenced to six years in prison. Herrin entered an open guilty plea, meaning Judge Christopher Nash ultimately decided his sentence.
State guidelines suggested Herrin could get 18 years of prison time but by submitting his guilty plea, Herrin acknowledged he could face up to 30 years in prison.