Hetherington pleads guilty to vehicular homicide, sentenced to 2 years in prison
It the midst of a mother’s tears and heart-rending re-telling of her daughter’s last moments, the driver who admitted to causing her 8-year-old’s death was sentenced Tuesday.
Logan Tyler Hetherington, now 20, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of Layla Aiken, who was struck as she waited at a school bus stop with her twin brothers last March, and was sentenced to two years in prison followed by probation.
Judge Robert Branning accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Hetherington as a youthful offender as part of a plea arrangement reached with input and agreement from Layla’s mother. Kathleen Redman, whose voice broke throughout her statement, told the court that despite her family’s pain, she did not want Hetherington to go to prison for an extended length of time, saying he made a mistake.
His prison sentence will be followed by two years of community control followed by two years of state probation.
Hetherington also must provide a DNA sample, pay $1,100 in fines, complete 120 hours of community service in Cape Coral and attend the Lee Memorial Trauma Class and Victim Impact Panel.
His driver’s license will be suspended for one year,
The youthful offender statute was created by the Legislature to rehabilitate young defendants.
The plea deal also called for Hetherington to plead guilty to possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Layla was waiting at a northeast Cape bus stop with her two brothers shortly after 6 a.m. on March 25, 2019. The street has no sidewalks and she was struck while sitting near the northeast corner of Northeast 3rd Avenue and Northeast 19th Terrace by a pickup truck police say turned the corner too sharply, traveling onto the grass and into the dirt shoulder.
Her brothers ran for help.
The driver did not stop.
Cape Coral police, who investigated the incident as a hit-and-run, later seized the pickup truck Hetherington drove to work.
Based on evidence gathered, including witness accounts and videos obtained from security cameras, Hetherington, who was 19, was arrested on a warrant. He originally was charged with leaving the scene of a traffic crash with a fatality and vehicular homicide as well as possession of cannabis under 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia found when officers conducted a vehicle search.
Layla’s death occurred two months after 12-year-old Alana Tamplin was fatally injured while walking home from a North Fort Myers bus stop, also in an area without sidewalks.
The death spawned efforts to make stops safer for children with volunteer organizations, including the Cape Coral Rotary Club and Benches For Our Babes installing benches and picnic tables at numerous north county stops.
In Alana’s case, the driver, Mary Ann Miller, 62, pleaded no contest to careless driving.
She was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, 75 hours of community service, a six-month suspension of her driver’s license and trauma class attendance.