Colon Louis Hartzler has been sentenced to 10 years on multiple charges, including vehicular homicide in the first degree.
Judge Bonnie C. Oliver handed down that sentence Friday, May 18, in a Dawson County courtroom.
Hartzler, 45, was found guilty in February 2012 on charges from a June 2010 traffic incident that killed Jenna Annette Fitzgerald of Gainesville. She was 24 years old.
Fitzgerald was a passenger in Hartzlers Jeep when she was thrown from the vehicle onto Ga. 400, following an attempt by Hartzler to make a left-hand turn onto Carlisle Road. She was then struck by another vehicle.
Hartzler was found guilty of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and making false statements or writings.
The sentencing followed nearly an hour of emotional testimony from family and friends of Hartzlers and Fitzgeralds.
She loved life. Anybody who says different didnt know her, John Fitzgerald, Jennas father, told Oliver prior to sentencing. His hands shook as he read from a prepared speech. His wife, Judy Fitzgerald, stood by his side, holding a piece of paper with her daughters picture and the words Too young to die printed on it.
You were charged, you were found guilty in a court of law, and now you will pay, the father directed to Hartzler, who stared straight ahead, not looking at Fitzgeralds parents.
Fitzgeralds cousin, Lindsay Smith, also spoke. She was beautiful and she was wonderful, she said, crying. She was the best role model.
I just hope that you all know that she was a wonderful person.
Earlier in the proceedings, Hartzler addressed the judge, tearing up as he spoke. She was my friend, he said. Id spend the rest of my life in jail if it would bring her life back. Hartzler talked about how, after Fitzgerald was thrown from his vehicle, he made an attempt to rescue her.
My heart goes out to the Fitzgeralds, and everybody who knew Jenna, Judge Oliver said. She went on to say that she does not believe Hartzler is a threat to society.
But Mr. Hartzler ... (the situation) was under your control, she said. It was your vehicle under your control, exclusively.
Hartzler was sentenced to 10 years, with four served in prison and six on probation. The terms of the probation include having no contact with the Fitzgerald family, serving 240 hours of community service and paying $4,671.75 in fines, plus court fees and surcharges.
We appreciate the work and attention of the jury in this case, the district attorneys office said in a statement, and we appreciate them holding Mr. Hartzler responsible for his actions.
This case was a terrible tragedy, one in which a young woman lost her life as a result of Mr. Hartzlers drunk driving.
After delivering the sentence, Judge Oliver paused before addressing both the prosecution and defense. I know that this is not what either side wanted, she said.
But I feel like this is a just sentence.