Hit and Run suspect receives no jail time

FRESNO, Calif.

In an exclusive interview with Action News, Kwame said he's not a bad guy. He said he just made a mistake, but his mistake was deadly.

Despite that, he won't go to prison. He won't go to jail. He'll just have to wear an electronic monitor for about six months.

At the intersection of Ashlan and Marks, Gage Castillo's short life ended in November of last year. The 9-year-old pedaled into the street on his bike.

Two vehicles hit him. One driver stopped. The other kept going. Kwame was the driver who didn't stop and he carries the memory with him.

"The burden is heavy," he said. "That was a death. That wasn't an accident or injury or a cut. Somebody died so the burden is heavy."

It took more than four months before evidence led police to Kwame. In the meantime, investigators figured out Castillo had crossed against the light. They believe Kwame was the second driver to hit the boy and couldn't have avoided the accident. But he could've stopped.

"That was an unfortunate situation," he said. "That wasn't a situation where I just woke up and said, 'Hey, let me go run over a little boy. Let me kill a little boy.' Me myself, I have a son. Every day I look at him, I have to think about that."

Kwame held back tears as he stood in court after pleading no contest to a felony hit and run charge. But because he didn't cause the accident and because of jail overcrowding, the judge sentenced him to no jail time. Instead, Kwame will wear an electronic monitor for 180 days.

"If I put him in jail, he'd be out tomorrow with no further punishment," said Judge Jonathan Conklin. "So by at least imposing the 180 days [of electronic monitoring] I'm accomplishing some degree of control and punishment."

Gage's family wasn't in court for the sentencing, but Kwame sent them a letter of apology. The boy's father told Action News it's not enough.

"Because no matter how much he tells me sorry he can't bring my son back," he said in an April 2010 interview.

Kwame was driving on a suspended license, but before the accident, he had no criminal record. He said he doesn't blame Gage's family for being mad at him.

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