Crime

State Attorney's Office offers man 30 years in prison in Christmas death of Palmetto teen

MANATEE -- The State Attorney's Office has offered a plea deal of a 30-year prison sentence to a 20-year-old-man charged in the death of a Palmetto teen during a Christmas Day drug deal gone bad.

Kyle O'Halloran was killed Dec. 25 after Roberto Betancourt and two others pulled into O'Halloran's driveway to buy marijuana, according to a police investigation. Betancourt and two passengers passed the marijuana around to smell it and then the driver drove off without paying for it.

O'Halloran hung onto the exiting vehicle, investigators say, and Betancourt continued to speed off until the victim fell off. O'Halloran died of head trauma.

Betancourt is charged with manslaughter with a weapon, leaving the scene of a crash with a fatality and driving with a suspended license. He was not in court Tuesday morning, when Assistant State Attorney Candice Bartholomew officially made the offer of 30 years in prison to resolve the case without going to trial.

Martin Burzynski, Betancourt's defense attorney, was also not present Tuesday and had asked defense attorney Brett McIntosh to cover for him at the last minute. McIntosh said he would convey the offer to Burzynski.

Circuit Judge Diana Moreland scheduled another case management hearing at 8:30 a.m. May 20, and ordered Burzynski to be present.

The case was also tentatively set to go trial during a two-week period starting Aug. 31.

O'Halloran's family has denied the reports of a drug deal, insisting the suspects held their son in the car while they robbed him of jewelry and then dropped him into the street.

Betancourt is being held at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $60,000. Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitternote>

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