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Ex-coach sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for fatal DUI

SARASOTA — Former Braden River High School Coach Josh Hunter today was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for the drunken driving death of his best friend.

Circuit Judge Donna Berlin sentenced Hunter to 10 years and 4 1/2 months in prison, to be followed by 55 months of probation.

On May 17, a jury found Hunter guilty of DUI manslaughter for driving his truck off the County Road 681 on-ramp to Interstate 75 and causing it to overturn, ejecting his best friend and assistant coach Doug Garrity from the vehicle, killing him. Blood tests later showed Hunter had a blood-alcohol-content level of .21, nearly three times the legal limit in Florida of .08.

Hunter, who has been in the Sarasota County jail since his conviction, faced between four and 15 years in prison.

During the trial, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper testified that a passenger in the truck, Matt Braselton, identified Hunter as the driver on the night of the crash. But Braselton testified that he couldn’t remember who was driving.

Hunter’s brother, James, also a passenger in the truck, refused to testify at trial that his brother had been driving, which forced prosecutors to rely on the trooper’s testimony.

James Hunter, 39, is still serving the remainder of a three-month sentence for criminal contempt of court for refusing to testify at trial.

He also awaits sentencing this morning on a separate civil contempt charge for refusing to speak to prosecutors about the case prior to the trial.