FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Loved ones shed tears inside and embraced each other outside a Broward courtroom after a ruling that a 73-year-old convicted in the hit-and-run death of a 6-year-old girl will not be released from prison on Monday.
“I’m ecstatic about the ruling and what could have been,” said Suzanne Walker, whose daughter Nicole was struck and killed on the night of June 23, 1992 in DaniaBeach when Pierce’s Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck struck her and two other girls.
“I am so happy that he is going back to prison,” Walker told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench as tears flowed down her face. “It feels really good. He thought he was going to pull a fast one and be out and free on Monday.”
“This time it just feels good,” she said. “There’s a little more justice in my day. I am elated. I’m just elated that he will not be on the streets.”
“I’m thankful,” said Brooke Mansey, as she hugged her mother. “But I really don’t want to speak.”
Mansey was injured and left with a broken shoulder when Walker’s vehicle struck her.
“It’s just been overwhelming today and we’re grateful to the Judge for seeing clearly what Judge Speiser meant,” said Sherry Mansey, Brooke’s mother. That judge handed down the original sentence.
Walker’s mother told D’Oench that her daughter was walking down 33rd Avenue just south of Griffin Road about 9 p.m. on June 23rd, 1992 when Walker’s truck careened out of control and hit her daughter and struck Mansey, who was 9 at the time and injured another girl, who was hospitalized in a body cast.
Kenneth Pierce was identified as the driver four months later. He went to trial and in April 1993, a jury convicted him of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, tampering with evidence and violation of parole.
At the time of the accident, Pierce’s driver’s license was under suspension due to a previous DUI charge.
Labeled a habitual offender, Pierce was sentenced to 40 years in prison for Nicole Walker’s death.
That was 20 years ago and with 20 more years yet to serve on his sentence, Pierce was scheduled to be released from jail on Monday, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
But Circuit Judge Lisa Porter agreed that a clerical error gave Pierce too much credit for time served.
Pierce was given credit for time served on all of the counts against him while he should have just been given credit for time served on one of the counts.
Pierce will not serve the entire 40-year sentence.
Under a complex set of guidelines and because of time served, Assistant State Attorney
Susan Odzer Hugentugler said Pierce could be released in two to three years, after serving 22 to 23 years behind bars.
A woman named “Tammy” who told D’Oench that she was Pierce’s daughter had a few words to say after the decision.
She told D’Oench, “He never gets a fair deal. He’s a good father and he’s a good man.”
Suzanne Walker told D’Oench that she was originally told that Pierce would serve at least 30 years in prison.
Nicole Walker would have been 26 today.
“I am lost without her,” said Walker, who moved to Port St. Lucie from DaniaBeach eleven years ago. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I just wish my daughter could have been here. She’ll never be out of my memory. This will never stop.
I will always be my child’s voice.”