Michael Wayne Washington Jr. of Macclenny was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison for running over and killing a handicapped pedestrian during a confrontation with another young man on April 11, 2011.
Circuit Judge Phyllis Rosier accepted Mr. Washington’s guilty pleas October 31 to manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony and violation of probation.
The first two counts related to the death of Rashard Belford, 18, who lived in the same southwest city neighborhood as the 21-year-old defendant.
The aggravated assault count was connected to Mr. Washington’s altercation with Kevohntae Hadley, then 18, which drew an estimated 50 people to the melee at the corner of MLK Boulevard and Minnesota Avenue about 8 pm.
Witnesses told police Mr. Washington got into his mother’s 2001 Chevrolet sedan parked near the intersection and aimed it at Mr. Hadley, who had intervened in a fight among their younger sisters, reportedly over a boy.
The victim, who had cerebral palsy, was struck by the sedan and dragged underneath as Mr. Washington pursued Mr. Hadley. Mr. Belford’s family said at the sentencing hearing the defendant did not heed pleas to stop the vehicle.
Mr. Belford’s adoptive mother, Eddie Mae Lee, read a letter she wrote back in September expressing her disbelief that Mr. Washington was sorry for killing Mr. Belford. She argued he did not deserve the court’s mercy.
The victim’s family sought a stiffer sentence than the 15 years recommended by prosecutor Ralph Yazdiya.
“Who will have mercy on Rashard Belford,” said Ms. Lee. “ … Money is not important. I just want justice … It’s about justice.”