TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The man responsible for a Pinellas County deputy’s death will now spend 35 years in prison for his crime after a Friday change of plea hearing.
On Feb. 17, 2021, Deputy Michael Magli was killed in the line of duty in a crash with a drunk driver, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
At the time of the incident, the deputy stopped on East Lake Road that night to collect stop sticks when Robert Holzaepfel hit him, leaving him pinned under his patrol vehicle. He then died at the scene.
During Friday’s hearing, the deputy’s parents and widow tearfully shared how losing him has devastated their lives.
“You took my best friend and the father of my children” said Stephanie Magli, the wife of the late deputy. “Our youngest was only 9 months old, and she will never experience a memory of him.”
“I have to forgive you. It won’t come easy, and it may take a lifetime, but for now I hope you hear my words and some day feel sorry,” said Angela Ramirez, Michael Magli’s mother.
During the hearing, Holzaepfel only spoke to respond to the judge’s questions.
When asked by the judge if he understood the plea agreement, Holzaepfel replied, “yes sir.”
Stephanie Magli only had one request for Holzaepfel: to speak for himself and address the family.
However, it was an attorney for Holzaepfel who read a statement on his behalf at the end of the hearing, which included an apology to the family.
The judge ended up sentencing Holzaepfel to 35 years in prison as part of his plea agreement.
“There was justice served today,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. “Thirty-five years is an appropriate sentence. It’s really a life sentence for him. He’ll be close to 70 years old if he doesn’t die in prison when he gets out, so there’s no life left, and there shouldn’t be.”