During an emotion-filled hearing, the Social Circle teen charged with the accidental death of his girlfriend apologized to her family before receiving his sentence in Newton County Superior Court Thursday.
Kyle Holland, 19, pleaded guilty in February for the death of Kerri Mincy, 16, of Monticello. Holland requested a pre-sentencing hearing, involving an independent investigation by the probation department, which made their own sentencing recommendation privately to Judge John Ott.
Ott sentenced Holland to 10 years, with three years in confinement, for involuntary manslaughter, with an additional consecutive five years probation for theft by taking. Holland was also ordered to obtain his GED and receive mental health counseling due to the impact of the incident.
Mincy was crushed by a front-end loader on Sept. 30, 2007, when she, Holland and three other area teenagers entered after hours onto the Stanton Springs Technology Park construction site and went joyriding on heavy construction equipment. She was riding a front-end loader driven by Holland when the machine slipped down an embankment. She jumped down but was unable to clear its path.
On Thursday morning, family and friends of both Holland and Mincy packed the courtroom for the half-hour sentencing hearing. Members of the Hollands' church, Baptist Tabernacle, and New Rocky Creek Baptist, where the Mincys attend, were in attendance as well.
According to his attorney Michael Waters, Holland, visibly shaken, addressed the Mincys - the first time since the incident he was able to do so. As his voice rattled, he apologized for what he did and told them that he loved Kerri, that he still had pictures of her in his room and that her death affected him every day.
Kerri's mother, Kathy Mincy, said she was crying so hard she couldn't remember everything that was said, but that Holland spoke from the bottom of his heart.
Kerri's father, Ron Mincy, also spoke before the court and described a conversation he had with Holland the day of Kerri's death before the incident. He reportedly told Holland, who had been dating Kerri for about two months, that he entrusted him to protect his daughter.
The trespass that lead to the accident was not something his daughter would have done on her own, said Ron Mincy, but was something Holland encouraged her to do. He said he did not hate Holland but hated the thing that Holland did and hoped he was a "child of God" now.
Holland's mother, Lynette Holland, said she recognized that her son did a terrible thing that had a huge impact on him and the Mincys daily, but that it had been an accident. Her son still had nightmares from the incident and pictures of Kerri on his cell phone, she reportedly said.
Ott also spoke about the importance of making good decisions and the consequences of those decisions, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Layla Zon.
Deputies then took Holland into custody from the courtroom after the sentence was announced.
"It was tough on all sides," said Zon. "It was gut wrenching."
The two families hugged and were able to speak to each other for the first time since the funeral, said Kathy Mincy.
"They came up and gave us a hug and told us how sorry they were, and that I was welcome to go see Kyle," she said.
The Mincy family was satisfied with the sentence, she said. "The pain is still there," she said, "but we never did hate Kyle. There was no doubt in my mind that he did love Kerri. It was just that he made a bad choice that day."
Three other co-defendants, Cody Smith, 17, of Covington, Tony Burnett, 19, of Monticello, and Jeffrey Cantrell, 18, of Newborn, also pleaded guilty in February to theft by taking and criminal trespass and were sentenced to 10 years probation. Smith and Burnett were required to serve the first 30 days in jail while Cantrell was required to serve the first year in confinement.
Also in Newton County Superior Court Thursday, Robert Quantrall Broughton, 21, charged with killing 15-year-old Marita Logan in Dec. 2006, maintained his plea of not guilty at the pre-trial conference.
The five defendants charged in connection with the killing of Kawasikis Ricks, 29, in June 2007 - Clarence Benton Jr., 17, Brandon Hudnal, 21, Terrance Reid, 21, Marino Tuggle, 17, Tervarius White, 17 - also maintained pleas of not guilty at their pre-trial conference.
Both Broughton and the defendants in the Ricks case are scheduled to go to trial on June 16, according to Zon.