PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A judge has sentenced a Florida man to serve the maximum time in prison for running over two children in April 2020 then leaving the scene.
Judge Jennie Kinsey sentenced Robert Etheridge to serve 45 years in prison for failure to stop at a crash involving death and failure to stop at a crash involving injury.
Etheridge ran over and killed Rylee Simmons, 13, and injured Rylee’s friend, Hailey Locke, who was 12 years old at the time. The deadly hit-and-run crash happened near the Lakes of Carrington subdivision on West Quintette Road east of Highway 29 in Cantonment.
Hailey testified in court Tuesday about not just the physical pain but the mental pain of losing her close friend. Other family members of Hailey and Rylee gave emotional testimony about the impact this has had on their lives over the past year and a half.
Etheridge and his family members testified as well before the judge made her decision. Etheridge’s aunt and cousin disputed claims made during the trial that he didn’t show remorse. Etheridge maintained the defense that he thought he ran over a deer that night. He said Tuesday in court while at home inspecting the outside of his Ford Explorer for deer hair, he instead found human hair.
“When the trooper was talking to you about the crash that night on the scene, at one point you were laughing and what struck me most is that you never once asked are they okay,” Judge Kinsey said just before her ruling.