Tampa Bay True Crime Series: Cameron Herrin's deadly Bayshore crash

On a warm summer day in May of 2018, Jessica Raubenolt and her 1-year-old daughter Lillia were killed on one of the most iconic and scenic roads in Tampa, Bayshore Boulevard.

The mother and child were crossing the street when a Ford Mustang, driven by Cameron Herrin, plowed into them. Jessica died instantly; baby Lillia died a day later

David Raubenolt got the heartbreaking call his wife and baby daughter had been hit by a car.

"May 23 of 2018 was such a catastrophic day. I collapsed in absolute fear and terror at what had just happened," Raubenolt recalled.

RELATED: Timeline: Deadly 2018 Bayshore street-racing crash

Prosecutors say Herrin, with his older brother Tristen in the passenger seat, were racing another driver, 17-year-old John Barrineau.

Both Cameron Herrin and John Barrineau were arrested and, days later, faced a Tampa judge.

Herrin's defense attorney, John Fitzgibbons, fought to get Herrin out of jail and behind the wheel again, but the judge wasn't having it.

Herrin would eventually bond out of jail and Barrineau would too.

Cameron Herrin and John Barrineau

The trial

For the next two years, both sides would wrestle over evidence and witnesses, but patience would wear thin for Jessica's husband, who tearfully pleaded with the judge to pick up the pace.

"I suffer horrifically every moment. It is nearly impossible to put into words the agony of this legal process," expressed Raubenolt.

After delays and a pandemic, the trial was set for December of 2020. But then came the stunner by Herrin's attorney: "Yes, your honor, we are going to enter an open plea," explained Fitzgibbons.

Tampa judge Christopher Nash turned to Herrin's co-defendant, John Barrineau, and asked his attorney Anthony Rickman what they planned to do.

"Is Mr. Barrineau still going to trial or is he also entering an open plea?" Nash inquired.

"No, your honor, we have entered a negotiated plea agreement as it relates to Mr. Barrineau," responded Rickman.

John Barrineau cut a deal with the state and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and unlawful racing in exchange for a six-year prison sentence.

Herrin was staring at 30 years in prison would do an open plea and leave his fate to a judge.

The sentencing

At his sentencing, prosecutor Aaron Hubbard would lay out a pattern of excessive speeding by Herrin days before the deadly crash.

"We even see, at 9:18 a.m., that vehicle traveling, according to that data, traveling approximately 162 mph on I-75," explained Hubbard.

Later, emotions would spill from every corner of the courtroom when Jessica's husband took the stand directing his disdain at Herrin.

"You've shown zero remorse. The truth behind this is that you are privileged. You killed a mother and her daughter. You did that," Raubenolt said. 

There was also strong support for Herrin. His mother, friends and teachers spoke of his kind heart and his reputation for being a good kid.

But the judge had the final say. "I'm sentencing you to nine years on count one and 15 years on count two," ruled Nash. 

Cameron Herrin was going away for 24 years.

Cameron Herrin's overseas fans

"I hope this sentence will inspire younger folks to behave in a manner that is appropriate amongst our streets," expressed Raubenolt.

But instead, it inspired a movement on social media. The hash tag #justiceforcameronherrin and #freecameron would trend on Twitter and TikTok from international accounts.

Herrin's attorney denies he or his client's family had anything to do with it.  Tech experts say some Twitter accounts are legit, while many others are internet bots.

Meanwhile, Herrin is appealing the judge's sentence, calling it "excessive," and he is not alone. Criminal defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand agrees the punishment is too harsh.

"Sending a young man to prison for that long of a time period I think is excessive," Brunvand agreed.

But that decision could be several months away.

Family photo of David, Jessica, and Lillia Raubenolt

On August 20, 2021, Lillia Raubenolt would have celebrated her fourth birthday.

"Biggest mistake of my life was brining my family to Tampa Bay, Florida, because that's where the killers of my family were," Raubenolt added.

Timeline and story archive

May 23, 2018: Three arrested in Bayshore accident 

  • Police say street racing led to the death of a mom pushing her young daughter in a stroller across Bayshore Blvd. Now, three people are under arrest.

May 24, 2018: Toddler hurt in Bayshore Blvd. crash dies from her injuries

  • The 21-month-old toddler who was injured when she and her mother were hit by a car while walking across Bayshore Boulevard has died from her injuries, according to the Tampa Police Department.

May 25, 2018: Suspect in deadly Bayshore crash arrested on new charge, held without bond 

  • One of the suspects in a case of alleged street racing on Bayshore Blvd. has been arrested on a second count of vehicular homicide, according to online arrest records from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

May 26, 2018: Alleged driver in deadly Bayshore crash bonds out of jail after second arrest 

  • The driver of a Ford Mustang accused of hitting and killing a young mother and her toddler on Bayshore Boulevard was released on a $50,000 bond Saturday evening.

May 31, 2018: Documents: Driver in fatal street racing crash was going 102 mph 

  • Court documents released Thursday show the driver of the Mustang accused of hitting and killing a young woman and toddler was going much faster along Bayshore Blvd. than previously thought.

June 1, 2018: Vehicle's 'black box' reveals car reached 102mph on Bayshore before crash 

  • According to a newly released report, the 2018 Ford Mustang that police say hit and killed a mother and her young child on Bayshore Boulevard was doing "102 miles an hour before the driver began a hard braking, right before the crash."

June 4, 2018: Residents want to put brakes on street-racing 

  • A pair of arrests over the weekend put street racing in Tampa back in the spotlight, less than two weeks after a mother and daughter were killed as they crossed Bayshore Boulevard by a teenage driver whom police believe was racing.

June 6, 2018: Teen to be charged as adult in deadly Bayshore crash 

  • The Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office confirmed Wednesday the 17-year-old charged in connection with a street racing crash that killed a mother and her child, is being charged as an adult.

June 9, 2018: Defendant in deadly Bayshore crash released from jail 

  • A 17-year-old charged in the street-racing crash that killed a mother and daughter faced a judge today before posting bond and walking out of jail.

June 11, 2018: Bayshore accident a lesson to teens at safe driving summit 

  • FOX 13 was there as 65 teenagers from across Florida came together in St. Pete to try and prevent deadly accidents like what happened in May on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.

May 23, 2019: South Tampa remembers mother, daughter killed on Bayshore 

  • The South Tampa community gathered Thursday on the anniversary of a deadly crash that killed a mother and her young daughter as they crossed Bayshore Boulevard.

June 5, 2019: Trial date set for deadly Bayshore racing case 

  • Nineteen months after a mother and her 1-year-old baby girl were struck and killed on Bayshore Boulevard, the two young men accused in the crash have been given a trial date: December 2, 2019.

December 18, 2019: Survivors of mother, baby killed in Bayshore crash ask court to end delays 

  • Broken from his unbearable anguish, David Raubenolt told a Hillsborough County courtroom he's fed up with delays in the cases of two teens accused in a crash that killed his loved ones.

July 23, 2020: More delays, no trial date for teens 

  • At a hearing Thursday afternoon, Hillsborough Judge Christopher Nash couldn't say for sure when the case of two teens -- accused of killing a mother and daughter in a fatal crash on Bayshore Boulevard -- would go to trial.

August 10, 2020: Suspected Bayshore street racers get January trial date 

  • A heartbroken father did not hold back during a Zoom hearing today. He blamed the legal stalling on the defense and suggested they were using the COVID-19 pandemic as a crutch to limp this case along.

November 9, 2020: Defense files motion, putting key evidence in Bayshore crash into question 

  • With the heaviest heart, David Raubenolt has patiently waited for over two years to see justice for his wife and daughter, who were killed while crossing Bayshore in 2018. But now it appears the state’s case may be in jeopardy.

November 10, 2020: Accused Bayshore racers await judge's ruling on evidence in vehicular homicide case

  • Criminal defense attorney John Fitzgibbons had strong words at a virtual hearing while fighting to throw out key evidence he says was unlawfully obtained by Tampa police during their investigation into the Bayshore crash that killed a mother and her baby.

December 3, 2020: Judge will permit evidence showing driver's speed 

  • Key evidence regarding the computer system in Cameron Herrin’s Mustang has been in limbo for weeks because defense attorneys said it was not obtained properly.

December 28, 2020: One of two drivers takes plea deal 

  • A week before their trial was set to begin, 21-year-old Cameron Herrin and 20-year-old John Barrineau decided to go their separate legal ways.

December 31, 2020: Teens plead guilty in Bayshore crash that killed mother, baby

  • Cameron Herrin, 21, and John Barrineau, 20, should be getting ready for college, but they are both headed to prison.

April 8, 2021: Judge hands down 24-year sentence for driver in Bayshore crash 

  • The wait for justice for the family and loved ones of Jessica and Lillia Raubenolt has been excruciating. 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.

April 9, 2021: Bayshore safety remains priority after judge gives 24-year sentence to driver in deadly crash 

  • Following a judge's decision to give a 24-year prison sentence to the defendant in a 2018 crash that killed a mother and her baby, pressure builds in Tampa to make Bayshore Boulevard safer.

May 31, 2021: Driver in deadly Bayshore crash plans to appeal 24-year prison sentence 

  • The 24-year prison sentence in the deadly Bayshore street-racing crash came as a shock to many in the legal community, but it might not end there. The stiff sentence is now being appealed by the young driver's attorney.