Justice today— nearly a year after the hit-and-run crash that killed a Layla Aiken at a Cape Coral bus stop the suspect in the case reached a plea deal that was accepted by the judge.
Logan Hetherington was sentenced to two years in prison as a “youthful offender.” He will also serve two years of house arrest followed by two years of probation. Hetherington’s driver’s license will then also be suspended for one year, in addition to 120 hours of community.
In the initial plea, the prosecutors and the state agreed for Hetherington to have adjudication withheld, meaning he would not be officially found guilty.
Judge Robert Branning rejected that idea and said Hetherington would be “leaving court a convicted felon” with any plea he approves.
Hetherington pleaded and was found guilty during the sentencing.
FULL SENTENCING HEARING
Layla’s mother, Kathleen Redman, gave an emotional statement to the court about how the life of her and her family has been torn apart by her daughter’s death.
“It would be easier to hate Logan but I don’t … I see a scared young man who made stupid selfish choices as teenagers are known to do,” she said. “He’s not a murderer.”
And with her incredible strength, she gave her daughter’s killer a chance to have a life.
Judge Branning said he took into account her plea for leniency on Hetheringtionm, yet still seeking justice.
Redman said after she learned her daughter was hit in the head and run over, “It took everything in me to gather the courage to look over at that circle of EMT’s, to see what my daughter looked like.”
She spared no details to the court in the graphic telling of what she saw that day.
In a brief moment after her statements, Hetherington apologized directly to Redman.
Layla’s death launched safety initiatives for the city and school district, from several grassroots community groups.
A local attorney says there are two big reasons prosecutors and defense came to a plea agreement— one it spares Layla’s family from having to relive the details of that day and two— it gives the defendant a little more control over his sentence.
“You know what you’re gonna get and so knowing that and knowing there may be overwhelming evidence against him…this might be his best option to mitigate the sentence,” criminal defense attorney, Peter Dennis said.
Based on text messages between him and his girlfriend, Hetherington knew he was a suspect within hours after Layla was hit and killed at her bus stop.
DNA on his truck also helped connect him to the crime.
Heatherington was taken into the Department of Corrections custody immediately after court to begin his sentence.