Coral Gables

Motorist who killed Coral Gables jogger gets five years in prison

Brian Harvey
Brian Harvey Miami-Dade Corrections

A Miami-Dade man will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to the drunk-driving car crash that killed a Coral Gables jogger.

Brian Harvey, 32, pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter for the August 2008 death of Carlos Cardenes Jr., 28.

But the plea deal was a bitter pill for the Cardenes family — at one point, Harvey had been sent to prison for 12 years, a sentence later thrown out by a judge.

“Four years in jail is not enough,” said Carlos Cardenes Sr., the victim’s tearful father. “We are going to be in jail the rest of our lives.”

Back in 2008, Cardenes was jogging on U.S. 1 at Alhambra Drive in Coral Gables when Harvey’s car plowed into him just before dawn. According to police, Harvey’s blood alcohol level was .14, well about the legal limit of .08. He also tested positive for Xanax and marijuana.

An avid runner, Cardenes was a college student who worked at Florida Power & Light.

Prosecutors initially offered Harvey six months in jail. His then-defense attorney, Larry Handfield, later admitted he never told his client about the plea offer.

On his lawyer’s advice, Harvey in 2010 pleaded guilty with no plea deal in hand. A Miami-Dade circuit judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

But Handfield later admitted he had mishandled the case and told Harvey “that he would not receive any more than county jail time” of less than a year in jail if he pleaded guilty.

The judge, Marisa Tinkler Mendez, threw out the conviction and sentence — and lawyers again had to prepare for a possible trial.

A conviction at trial was not assured. Cardenes had stopped in the middle of the road to adjust his iPod. In the darkened lighting conditions, Harvey had no time to react to Cardenes, said defense attorney David Molansky. The defense also planned to attack the validity of Harvey’s blood tests. But Harvey declined to go to trial.

“Both families got hurt,” Molansky said. “He wanted the case to be over. We felt it was a fair resolution.”