A Michigan man who was convicted of murdering five bicyclists was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison.
Charles Pickett Jr., 52, apologized to family members of the deceased in the courtroom through tears before hearing the sentence, saying, “I’m very sorry.”
“There’s nothing I can do to take it back,” said Pickett on June 11, reported WXMI. “I’ll live with this for the rest of my life. I would give my life for the people that I murdered and killed, maimed and everything else.”
But Judge Paul Bridenstine said that the apology was inadequate, noting that throughout the trial Pickett seemed stoic and not remorseful.
Pickett rammed into a cycling group known as the Chain Gang on June 7, 2016, in Kalamazoo killing five people later identified as Melissa Fevig Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik, Suzanne Sippel, and Debra Bradley.
Four other cyclists were also hit but survived. Jennifer Johnson, one of the surviving cyclists, said in a statement that she’s spent months recovering from her injuries, undergoing rounds of surgery and therapy.
“Some things will never be possible again due to physical limitations,” said Johnson during her statement. “Other activities are possible but much more difficult. I am riding again but only with a group while finding myself holding my breath when vehicles pass.”
Pickett was sentenced to 35 to 55 years for each of the murders and 8 to 15 years for each count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence causing death, reported the Kalamazoo News. In total, he will serve 40 to 75 years, and won’t be eligible for parole until he’s at least 90 years old.
Bridenstine said that Pickett had multiple chances to stop driving on June 7 before hitting the cycling group and noted that several witnesses came forward to report just barely escaping being hit by the erratic driver prior to the crash.
“You selfishly and unnecessarily murdered five people and altered the lives of four others,” Bridenstine said before handing down the sentence.
Pickett was found to have methamphetamine, muscle relaxers, and pain medication in his system at the time of the crash, and officials said an investigation concluded Pickett was driving 58 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour zone and didn’t hit the brakes until he hit the first cyclist.
Video Credit: WXMI-Grand Rapids