Action News broke the story Wednesday morning and we had the only camera in court as 43-year-old Loren LeBeau pleaded "no contest" to all the charges against him. That includes a DUI manslaughter charge for killing 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado on the Sugar Pine Trail in Northeast Fresno.
LeBeau's attorney says his client wanted to save the Maldonado family the pain of a trial, even though he knew he'd probably go to prison for quite some time. But the former coach couldn't hide his disappointment as he heard his sentence.
Through a clenched jaw, LeBeau accepted his punishment.
"You and the attorneys have agreed that it will be a 12-year sentence in state prison as a result of your plea today, is that correct?" Judge Greg Fain asked him.
"Yes," Lebeau said as he bit his lip.
The 43-year-old built a successful career as an educator and basketball coach at Central High School before it all came to a crashing halt last July.
LeBeau did not halt after crashing into a family of bicyclists at a crossing on Shepherd Ave. in Northeast Fresno. He dragged 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado about 300 yards, killing the boy, then drove away, only to return after about 15 minutes.
When he failed field sobriety tests, police arrested him. They later said he was tearful and apologetic.
His attorney says Lebeau understood how much damage he'd done very quickly.
"I would say Mr. Lebeau is as remorseful as he could possibly be," said attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt. "In every discussion I've had with him, he knows this has devastated two families."
11 months after the crash, Maldonado's father is still in a cast, as he was when he talked to Action News earlier this year. A family attorney says they're still suffering emotional injuries, but they're trying to move forward. LeBeau's plea and the construction that started this week on an underpass at the crosswalk where he killed Donovan give them a big boost.
"It's kind of a good week for the Maldonados in one respect," said attorney Warren Paboojian. "That crossing is going to be taken out and no one else is going to be hurt, and LeBeau has pled guilty."
LeBeau had no prior criminal history, but if he'd been convicted at trial, he could've faced up to nearly 21 years in prison.