A tearful plea from Ezra Moffett's mother and the coos of his two infant children may have made Judge Tim Kaltenbach's decision on Edgar Yanez's fate easier Tuesday in McCracken Circuit Court.
"It's an easy decision," Kaltenbach told Yanez. "You have not been mistreated by this sentence. In some eyes, it's a light sentence. But you will be going to jail."
Yanez was sentenced Tuesday in front of his family and the Moffett family on charges relating to the June 2012 wreck that took Ezra Moffett's life. Yanez has admitted to driving the Hummer H2 that was speeding down Blandville Road and crashed head-on into Moffett's vehicle. Toxicology results showed Yanez was intoxicated at the time of the wreck. Moffett, a delivery driver for The Paducah Sun, was on his morning routes.
Yanez originally faced five charges, but the various charges were amended and dropped. In his plea deal, Yanez pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief. Kaltenbach sentenced Yanez to 10 years in prison - 10 years for second-degree manslaughter, and five years each for the other charges, which will run concurrently. Second-degree manslaughter is considered a non-violent offense, so Yanez will be eligible for parole after two years.
Moffett's mother, Melva Moffett, pleaded with the judge for jail time for the teenager. She emphasized that she didn't hate Yanez, but firmly believes that his actions deserved consequences.
"I'm struggling, because I don't want anything bad for them," Melva Moffett said, choking back tears. "But he needs to learn. He has to pay the price for what he did."
Moffett's fianceÃ© and his two young children were in the audience. His youngest son, Ezra Moffett Jr., was born months after Moffett's death.
"We are just so glad this is over," said Rosetia Moffett, Ezra Moffett's sister. "We're pleased, but this is unbelievable. He was my heart."
Yanez denied driving the car that killed Moffett for most of the past 18 months, until agreeing to a plea deal in early February where he took responsibility. A previous plea offered the same suggested sentence, but Kaltenbach did not allow it because Yanez hadn't admitted to driving the car. On Tuesday in court, Yanez's attorney read aloud a statement concerning Yanez's remorse, but Yanez quietly declined to comment to the judge or the Moffett family.
Bailiffs immediately handcuffed Yanez at the end of the hearing and led him to the McCracken County Regional Jail where he began his sentence.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.