Alexandria "Ally" Marler's family walked out of a Bradenton courtroom feeling justice was not served this week.
Former Pinellas County sheriff's deputy Timothy A. Vaughan had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit on May 6, 2016, when he was involved in a crash in Palmetto with the two motorcycles that 20-year-old Marler and her three friends were on. But on Thursday, a jury did not find him responsible for Marler's death.
That jury of six did find Vaughan guilty of four misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence.
For the victim's father, Doug, the verdict and the one-year probation Vaughan was sentenced to on Friday, do not come close to justice, he said outside the courthouse.
"I always knew whatever happened inside that courtroom, good or bad, didn't change what happen on the road that night," Marler said.
The former deputy never denied he was drunk or driving drunk that night. He was fired within hours of his arrest.
Vaughan, 39, also lost his driving privileges for six months, was ordered to complete a DUI course, pay a $2,000 fine and to perform 50 hours of community service.
Marler's family was not permitted to speak at the sentencing hearing, despite Doug Marler's desire to address the court. Circuit Judge Lee Haworth explained that he could not punish Vaughan for Marler's death because the jury had determined he was not at fault for the crash and her death.
As a condition of his probation, Vaughan will not be permitted to drink alcohol and will be subject to random testing.
"Mr Vaughan, you have to understand that if you drink alcohol during that time that a violation of probation can lead to your incarceration for a period of time up to 12 months," Haworth told Vaughan.
Haworth was facing up to 15 years in prison had he been convicted of DUI manslaughter. Assistant State Attorney Cynthia Evers sought that he be sentenced to the maximum sentence of nine months in jail for his conviction of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of over .15.
“We are very disappointed with the jury verdict, but we certainly respect their decision,” Evers said in a statement to the Bradenton Herald.
Outside the courthouse, Doug and Kimberly Marley said what they wished they could have said on their daughter's behalf during the sentencing hearing.
"In the end, I really felt the responsibility to speak for Ally. She hasn't had a voice in this for about two years now," Doug Marler said. "In the courtroom and in all these proceedings, she hasn't had a voice at all, and I just felt as her father, I needed to go up there and say something."
Vaughan, like other law enforcement officers, had taken an oath "to protect" and is held to a higher standard, his wife explained.
"At the end of the day, had he not been on the road at .22, which is almost three times the legal limit, the crash would never happen. There never would have been a situation where we have to figure out what did or didn't happen," Kimberly Marler said.