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Man sentenced to three years in prison for vehicular homicide

By Staff | Nov 22, 2011

A motorist charged in the death of a 20-year-old Cape Coral woman was found guilty this week of vehicular homicide and sentenced to prison.

John Patrick Roberts, 23, of North Fort Myers, pleaded no contest to the charge Monday and was adjudicated guilty. He received three years in prison, which will then be followed by two years of house arrest with a monitoring device.

That will be followed by three years of drug offender probation, followed by five years of probation, officials at the State Attorney’s Office reported.

Roberts had additionally been facing DUI, DUI with serious bodily injury and DUI manslaughter, along with two counts of DUI damage to person or property.

The State Attorney’s Office dropped the additional charges.

“Based on the facts and circumstances and the evidence in this case, this was considered a good resolution,” State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said Tuesday. “This resolution was discussed with the victim’s family prior, and they let us know they were good with the outcome.”

Assistant State Attorney Abe Thornburg handled the case.

Public defender Penelope Michalakis represented Roberts.

She did not immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment.

On June 11, 2010, Roberts was driving a vehicle north on Del Prado Boulevard, North, when the car drifted to the right at about 8 p.m. and left the road, striking a tree in 3500 block. Brittany Nicole Lehman, the front seat passenger, died on scene from the injuries that she sustained.

Roberts and a second passenger, John Turner, 18, of Fort Myers, were transported to the hospital with injuries. They were treated and released.

An investigation found that Roberts had been traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the crash and alcohol was a factor. The vehicle was traveling an estimated 85 mph on a part of Del Prado that has a 50 mph speed limit.

About two months after the fatal crash, Lehman’s mother went missing after having dinner with a close friend. Friends and family reported Jennifer Lehman, 48, of Fort Myers, was not the same after her daughter passed.

On June 17 – a year after Lehman’s death – the Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a submerged vehicle found in a retention pond at Edison State College. Officials discovered a body inside the car.

Days later the body was positively identified as that of Jennifer Lehman.