FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A man who struck two brothers with his truck in 2014, killing one of them, and fled the scene was sentenced Thursday to more than seven years in prison, but the boys' family members were not pleased with the sentence.
Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer sentenced Zachary Benjamins to 90 months in state prison for leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash and tampering with evidence in an attempt to cover it up.
Apollo Brown Jr., 8, and his brother, Kelv'ron Florence, 14, were walking home from a basketball game in Dania Beach in December 2014 when they were struck by Benjamins' Toyota Tacoma.
Benjamins tried to get the truck repaired at an auto body shop, but the owner recognized the damaged vehicle from news reports and called Broward Sheriff's Office deputies.
Apollo's parents and brother, who survived but was severely injured, testified during Thursday's sentencing hearing and asked Scherer for the maximum 35-year sentence.
"He never said sorry to us," Apollo Brown Sr. said. "Not once."
Benjamins and his mother also took the stand, asking the families for forgiveness and for the judge to show mercy.
"I wish I could have expressed my remorse and pain with you sooner, because it pains me to think that you've gone this entire time thinking I'm a monster, because I'm not," Benjamins said.
After the sentence was announced, Apollo's mother said her family didn't get justice.
"I'm hurt," Salina Brown said. "I'm broken."
Brown said she and her husband pleaded for the driver to surrender, but he never did.
A bright spot in the middle of the anguish for the brothers' family is that Florence, now 15, is finally walking again. His family told Local 10 News that he started walking regularly, after being in a wheelchair, three weeks ago.
"I don't think that was a fair ruling, but the decision's not up to me," Florence said.
"He thinks about his brother every day," family friend Frank Cornelius said. "There's not one day he doesn't have a conversation about his baby brother."