The accident killed Jayden Thomas and injured four of his family members. They were driving home from a youth football game at the time. Police say 20-year-old Justin Nappi was driving under the influence when he caused that crash.
Nappi received seven years in prison. This was not what the victim's family had hoped for because he was exposed to 19 years in prison. The judge made his decision after listening to hours of tearful statements.
Wearing gray inmate clothing, Justin Nappi angled his chair to face the family and friends whose lives he changed the November night in 2012, when he was driving drunk and ran a stop sign. The Thomas family of five was in the car on their way home from one of Jayden's football games.
On Thursday, the victim's mother stood sobbing while a court representative read a letter she wrote describing how vibrant and happy her firstborn was, and the moments following the accident when she realized her son was dead in the backseat.
"Out of all the memories that I have of my son, I'll never be able to erase the image of seeing my son's lifeless body in the back of our car from my memory," the court representative read.
Jayden Thomas was the only boy in the family. He was the quarterback on the Los Banos Wildcats pee wee football team. His father loved coaching Jayden and the memories the two made playing sports. Demond Thomas spoke directly to Nappi without any prepared statement about what he must do to heal his broken heart.
"I just wanted to let him know that in order for me to heal, I had to forgive him, and that was one of the first healing steps for me is forgiveness, and I was able to do that today," said Thomas.
For the first time on Thursday, prosecutors revealed Nappi's blood-alcohol content at the time of the fatal accident: 0.18, which is more than twice the legal limit. Nappi's attorney said his client is devastated as well, and wakes up every day to the reality that he took a child's life. He asked the judge for probation.
Outside court, Jayden's mother said Nappi's irresponsible choice robbed her family of all they could have experienced with him. She asked for the maximum punishment of 19 years.
"I believe he should get the max of 19 years and eight months; that's sending a message out that we're not going to tolerate people drinking and driving," said Maria Thomas.
Nappi also spoke. He addressed the Thomas family personally. He said he is guilty and that he takes full responsibility