February 28, 2013

Driver gets 6 years for hit-run death of 11-year-old

Driver fled scene of accident, and later took his truck to an auto repair shop and filed an insurance claim.

When a motorist struck and killed 11-year-old Ashley Valdez on a West Kendall street four years ago, he took more than one life, the girl’s mother said.

“You destroyed my life,” Adonay Gonzalez told Harvey Abraham Thursday at his sentencing in a Miami-Dade courtroom.

For fleeing the scene and attempting to cover up evidence, Abraham, 37, must serve six years in prison, followed by eight years of probation.

With her mother holding her, Abraham’s teenage daughter fell to the courtroom floor shrieking, as the sentence was read.

Police say Abraham, 37, struck and killed Ashley who was crossing the street on Jan. 8, 2009 after a school bus driver dropped her off on the wrong side of the roadway.

Abraham fled. He later took his Ford F-150 to a South Miami auto body shop and filed an insurance claim, saying he was the victim.

A citizen who had been following the case spotted his truck outside the repair shop and called police. After he was arrested, he told police he thought he’d hit a dog.

He was convicted in November.

“Mr. Abraham, if you had just stopped, even if there was nothing you could do to help Ashley Valdez, I can’t imagine you would be facing what you are facing,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Rebull told him Thursday.

Gonzalez brought photos of her daughter and a letter to court to illustrate the void left by losing a child.

She talked about the kindness and liveliness of her daughter, who wanted to be a dancer, a singer and a veterinarian.

Ashley wanted to learn to play the guitar, but her mom talked her into learning the drums, “because they’re my favorite,” Gonzalez said.

Ashley’s extended family joined her mother, stepfather and younger sister in court. Two of her younger cousins spoke about how much they miss Ashley, who they called their sister and their best friend.

“I believe this was an accident,’’ Gonzalez told Abraham, “but, because you left the scene, and you never turned back, I’m filled with questions.”

Abraham’s friends and relatives told the court he is a hard-working husband and father of two, who would never intentionally hurt anyone.

His older brother, Timothy Abraham, described how Harvey Abraham had been working three jobs to support his family. Since Abraham was jailed in November, his wife and two daughters have lost their home.

“I’m telling the truth,” Timothy Abraham said. “My brother is a good man.”

Abraham was the last to speak before the sentencing. He stood and faced Gonzalez to tell her how he can’t look at his own daughters without seeing Ashley.

“I’m truly sorry for all the pain, all the heartache,” he said. “As a father, I felt the same pain.”

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