A 28-year-old man who accidentally killed his best friend was sentenced to six to 17 years in prison during an emotional court hearing Tuesday.
Jaxon Rogers was driving under the influence April 25 when he crashed a stolen 2007 Toyota Scion on Spencer Street at Pebble Road in Henderson, police said.
His 20-year-old passenger, Jason Bocuzzo of Henderson, died of his injuries.
Authorities initially charged Rogers with vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run involving death, reckless driving involving death and possession of a stolen vehicle. But for Rogers’ Sept. 26 plea of guilty to causing a death while driving under the influence, prosecutors dropped the other charges.
The plea bargain included a recommended sentence of two to 20 years in prison, but District Judge Donald Mosley tripled the minimum time Rogers must serve and reduced the maximum.
“I realize my life choices have affected innocent people,” Rogers said in court. He said that when he is released from prison, he would not return to consuming alcohol or drugs “to ease my emotional pain.”
Mosley also ordered Rogers to pay $62,920 to Bocuzzo’s family.
Bocuzzo’s mother, Karen Bocuzzo, said she wants Rogers to “pay for all my losses.” She wished he would have gotten more prison time.
“I will have to live with this the rest of my life. I just want him to serve the maximum sentence for what he has done to me,” she said.
She lamented that her son was the last man of the family who could have passed on the Bocuzzo name to his children.
Joyce LaPointe, the victim’s grandmother, told Rogers, “I can’t forgive you. I have so much hatred right now.
“I have never, ever hated anyone in my life, but I hate you.”
Police said Rogers drove the Scion through a red light on Spencer, struck a Nissan Maxima driven by Ada Divina, then crashed into a house. No one inside the house was injured.
After the crash, Rogers climbed over Bocuzzo and started half-walking and half-running away from the scene, police said.
Police picked Rogers up and arrested him a short distance from the crash scene.
Rogers and Divina were treated for injuries at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus.
Bocuzzo was airlifted to University Medical Center but died a short time later.
The Scion had been reported stolen nine days before the crash, police said.
Contact reporter David Kihara at email@example.com or (702) 380-1039.