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Driver responsible for fatal hit-and-run on SW 34th Street sentenced to 8.5 years in jail

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – James Richard O’Reilly, 20, was sentenced today to 8.5 years in state prison, followed by 10 years of drug offender probation, after pleading nolo contendere to DUI manslaughter, DUI with damage to property or injury, and failing to remain at the scene of a crash involving injury.

O’Reilly was arrested on March 17 after the car he was driving left the roadway along SW 34th Street and killed 21-year-old Prateek Sharma. The arresting officer reported that O’Reilly was noticeably impaired when officers made contact with him in a nearby parking lot, and he performed poorly on field sobriety exercises.

O’Reilly was initially held on $320,000 bail, but his lawyer’s motion to reduce the bond to $210,000 was granted in April, and he posted bond in October. Court documents show that he complied with all release conditions, including daily recovery meetings.

The minimum mandatory sentence for two of the charges is 12 years of imprisonment, but O’Reilly’s lawyer argued for less time based on O’Reilly’s youth, history of mental illness, and other factors. The lawyer stated that O’Reilly had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder before the incident.

The State Attorney’s Office recommended 15 years in prison, followed by 10 years of drug offender probation. Judge James Colaw sentenced O’Reilly to 8.5 years imprisonment on the first and third counts, to be served concurrently, followed by 10 years of drug offender probation. O’Reilly was sentenced to time served on the second count, DUI with damage to property. O’Reilly’s driver’s license has been permanently revoked, and he will have to pay $4,879 in fines and court costs.

  • I’ll never get how Florida laws make it so you get less years in prison when you kill anyone using a car vrs any other method of killing someone… this kid and anyone like him should get 15 or more no question.. the person he killed isn’t coming back home but he is in 5 years tops..

    • It was grossly negligent but not intentional. It’s not like he planned to go out and kill someone with his car. That matters.

      • The “intent” does not follow the killing but the usage of drugs and consumption of alcohol.

        • It’s not like he sat in his car, waited for the right moment, and ran down some person he didn’t like. A college kid drank too much (who served him?/where was he?/are they accomplices?), probably didn’t realize how drunk he was, and accidentally killed someone as a result. He obviously did not INTEND to kill someone.

          Joshua Figuerora received a lighter sentence for killing the girl by Midtown; he is older (supposed to be more responsible), and he tried to hide his car after he left the accident scene. It’s up to the judge in each case, for better or for worse.

    • On an 8.5-year prison sentence, he will serve no less than 7.225 years. Plus, he has 10 years of probation, so his total sentence is 18.5 years. You should know what you’re talking about before you say something. Or at least learn math.

  • Umm, if you have so many mental disorders, maybe NOT get behind the wheel? Duh 😡

    • Gilberto Dominguez it’s not white privilege at all- it’s Alachua County being too soft as usual. Had he done this in Levy County, or up in Columbia or Union County he’d get AT LEAST the recommended 15 years.

    • Whatever dude! I have seen many shirts that say things like “black power”, “I am black and proud” etcetera. When white people tried to say things like that, they were shut down quick! So what white privilege are you hallucinating about??

    • Joshua Figueroa received a 7 year sentence for doing the same thing but worse (not stopping at all and trying to hide his car). He’s Hispanic.

  • To me getting in a car drunk IS intention and this guy should have gotten the maximum sentence for murder, not “vehicular manslaughter.”

    He murdered a 21 year old kid. That kid will never “get out” of what this drunk did to him, his family will never recover from having their 21 year old child murdered.

    Killing someone while driving drunk is murder.

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