MIAMI – A 28-year-old man took a plea deal Wednesday in connection with a crash that killed a South Florida attorney, who was also a beloved husband and father.
Joseph Franco pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, possession with intent to sell nitrous oxide, tampering with evidence and three counts of reckless driving.
Emotions were running high just after the plea agreement was finished and Franco was sentenced to three years in state prison followed by five years of probation.
Outside the courtroom, a woman who was there to support Franco was hysterically crying when the widow of 34-year-old Amir Pelleg walked into the hallway and appeared to slap the sobbing woman.
Zulma Guillot Pelleg was then ushered away and would not comment on who the woman was when asked by Local 10 News reporter Parker Branton.
In court, Franco read an apology letter aloud, sobbing throughout the letter.
“I know there’s nothing I can do to make up for this terrible accident. I know there’s nothing I can do to bring you back," Franco said.
After the sentencing, the Franco family released a statement through their attorney that read:
“On behalf of Joseph Franco and the Franco family, we want to express our sincere condolences to the Pelleg family. While Joseph hopes that the Pelleg family receives some measure of closure by the completion of his criminal case, he understands that there is nothing that he can say, or do, to make up for the pain caused by the loss of their loved one.”
Additionally, Franco’s attorney released a final toxicology report indicating that Franco was not under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.
The issue of Franco’s sobriety during the accident was raised by attorneys. The DUI charges were later dropped.
Both the families of Franco and Pelleg were emotional throughout the hearing.
Guillot Pelleg also spoke in court, along with her husband’s mother and other family and friends, saying the family was on their way to a park in Sunny Isles Beach in July 2018 when the couple and their two children were struck by Franco’s car.
“So this says, ‘I love you, Daddy. I miss you, Daddy. I think of you, Daddy. I got straight As, Daddy. That’s what you always want for me,'” Guillot Pelleg said, reading from letters written by her children to their late father.
The two children were severely injured from the incident. Guillot Pelleg was initially in a coma and Pelleg died from his injuries.