Family upset over hit-and-run driver's sentence

Michele Traverso sentenced to 364 days in prison

MIAMI – The family of a cyclist killed by a convicted hit-and-run driver are still upset over what they consider to be a light sentence.

Michele Traverso was sentenced to 364 days in prison and two years of community control on Wednesday. He was pleaded guilty in connection with the Feb. 15 incident that killed cyclist Aaron Cohen and injured cyclist Enda Welsh. 

"I did what I thought was most appropriate in light of everything that was presented to me," Judge William Thomas said Wednesday.

Traverso was facing up to 30 years in prison.

Cohen's wife said the family supported a six-year sentence, which prosecutors wanted. The state was asking for a sentence of six years in prison followed by five years of probation.

Prosecutors said Traverso had been drinking, but they couldn't prove he was driving under the influence without a blood alcohol content level.

"What is being penalized is the action after the incident," said Jude Faccidomo with the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Faccidomo said the judge is bound by guidelines and with no other criminal evidence, a two-year sentence is within the guidelines of leaving the scene of a crash with death.

"Does Florida law almost encourage someone to flee the scene of this type of crash and death if staying means they will be charged with something much more serious?" asked Local 10's Glenna Milberg.

"An argument could be made for the fact that if you're able to avoid detection for driving under the influence, that may be in your best interest," replied Faccidomo. "The question then becomes should Florida reconsider their guideline scheme, and that's possible, yes."