Man who struck and killed cyclist faces judge
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The driver who got behind the wheel drunk and killed a cyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway in 2010 is facing a judge to learn his fate.
Carlos Bertonatti, 32, is facing anywhere from 12 to 37 years behind bars. The aspiring musician from Venezuela pleaded guilty in February to DUI manslaughter.
In 2010, Bertonatti was driving drunk when he struck and killed 44-year-old Christopher Lecanne. Lecanne was biking across Bear Cut Bridge.
In court, Monday morning, Bertonatti recounted that fateful morning. "I had too much to drink," Bertonatti said. "I very irresponsibly got behind the wheel of my car. I blacked out and hit a man and left him on the side of the road."
Bertonatti's lawyers said he deserves a more lenient sentence because he has medical issues, including post-traumatic stress as well as ADHD.
Meanwhile, the state said Bertonatti deserved a tougher sentence due to his reckless driving record, which includes dozens of citations that carry heavy weight, resulting in a heavy sentence. "I never felt the impact, never heard impact, I never saw impact," Bertonatti said.
The impact was in fact felt, by members of Lecanne's family. Judith Ramey, a victim's advocate, read letters by surviving family members. "Our life without Christoph is just a survival challenge."
However, Bertonattis's Defense Attorney Robert Pertierra said the driving record does not belong to Bertonatti. "A good significant portion of my client's driving record does not belong to my client, and a witness will take the stand and testify that all the 46 citations the state so boldly says my client has, a good portion of them, if not 50 percent of them, do not belong to my client."
The defense is saying the driving record belongs to Bertonatti's brother, Miguel Bertonatti. According to lawyers, Miguel did not have a license during that time and may have been using his brother's license. They say anywhere from 20 to 30 of violations given to Carlos Bertonatti may belong to his brother.
According to the prosecution, this is a shocking revelation, as they counter, it never came up in discovery. "The prosecution was not caught by surprise," Pertierra said outside the courtroom and walked away without further comment.
The judge advised Miguel to seek legal counsel and to return Tuesday, when the sentencing hearing continues. The hearing is expected to be a two-day process.
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