After nearly three years, the man accused of killing the young mother and her toddler on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa has been sentenced to 24 years in prison, 6 years short of the maximum of 30.
On Thursday, Cameron Herrin faced the widower of 24-year-old Jessica and the father of 1-year-old Lillia as he and his family read emotional victim impact statements.
Afterward, the judge spent about an hour in chambers going over the case and impact statement materials. The judge said Cameron Herrin’s track record of excessive speeding contributed to his decision to give him 24 years in prison.
Herrin was 18 when he hit and killed Jessica and Lillia in 2018.
Herrin and fellow Tampa Catholic High School student John Barrineau -- now both in their 20s -- were racing on Bayshore Boulevard. 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.
In the three years since, the wheels of justice seemed to turn slowly as the prosecution and defense battled over everything from the admission of evidence to how the young men would plead.
Days before Christmas of 2019, Jessica Raubenolt's husband, David Raubenolt made a distraught plea for the judge to remove lengthy barriers in the way of the case going to trial.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Teens plead guilty in Bayshore fatal crash that killed mother, baby
One of the central battles waged by the lawyers was over data recovered from the Mustang’s internal computer system, which indicated Herrin was going 102 miles per hour in what was then a 45-mile-an-hour zone.
The defense said the lead detective unlawfully obtained the computer system from the Mustang without a proper warrant. Herrin's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, argued for the evidence to be thrown out.
The black box data was ultimately allowed into evidence, however, a week before the trial was finally set to begin in January 2021, Herrin and Barrineau changed their pleas to guilty, admitting to racing and causing the deadly crash.
Barrineau cut a deal with the state in exchange for his cooperation and was sentenced to six years in prison.
State guidelines suggested Herrin could get 18 years of prison time, though his lawyer argued for less.
Jessica Raubenolt’s family says there are no words to describe the appreciation they’re feeling. They’ve gone nearly three years without Jessica and 1-year-old Lillia, and they say they now feel like they got some justice.
Jessica’s family says they can start a new path forward in their memory.
"It’s about the moms in this town and I think she would be proud of that," widower David Raubenolt said after the sentencing. "She was the type of person who never wanted to see any person suffer and this would have been a very hard day for her to sit in and through. But ultimately if she knew our goal was to make these streets safer, being the humble person that she was she would accept her sacrifice and be grateful for it."
The family sent a message about safety. They say it’s time for the city to stop street racing culture. They want to make sure no other family loses a loved one to a crash like that again.
Since the accident, the city added three crosswalks with flashing lights and reduced the speed limit on Bayshore from 45 to 35 miles an hour.
The family wants to work on more changes with the mayor and other city leaders. Jessica’s husband says their path forward is to help other parents and children in Tampa.