CLEARWATER - With Pinellas County Sheriff's squad cars on her heels, Stacy Naples raced through the streets of St. Petersburg, her 5-year-old nephew in tow, before running a stop sign and crashing her Infiniti into a Kia driven by Richard Trompke.
The 50-year-old St. Petersburg man later died from injuries sustained in the crash, which happened just before midnight on July 13, 2011.
On Tuesday, Naples, now 30, pleaded guilty to the seven charges filed against her - the most serious of which was fleeing and eluding causing death - and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, followed by five years of probation. Had she gone to trial and been convicted as charged, the shortest sentence she would have received would have been 30 years, prosecutors said.
The whole ordeal left the Trompke family with mixed feelings.
"We accept the sentence,' said Trompke's father, also named Richard Trompke, outside court. "But I think, as a family, we think it was a lenient sentence."
The 50-year-old Trompke was giving a friend a ride home at the time of the wreck, characteristic of his generous nature, his family members said. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease for 10 years but recently had undergone a surgical procedure and was making a miraculous recovery, his brother Steven said.
Though on disability at the time of the collision, Trompke was looking forward to getting back to work, Steven Trompke said. Richard had worked as a computer engineer for Verizon.
The Trompke family wanted Naples off the streets for as long as possible.
"My concern is when she gets free there will be a repeat of this, and some other family will have to deal with a tragic situation like this," Richard Trompke said.
Outside court, Assistant State Attorney Doneene Loar said Naples' attorney, Hector Rivera, made an offer of nearly 14 years in prison - the lowest punishment possible under state sentencing guidelines - in exchange for a guilty plea. The Trompke family balked at that offer, so Rivera made another offer of 18 years, which Pinellas Circuit Judge R. Timothy Peters accepted, Loar said.
Naples sobbed throughout the proceeding.
"I have three kids, I don't know what to do with them," the St. Petersburg woman told Peters.
The judge said he couldn't give her any advice in that arena.
"You go into custody right now," Peters had told Naples earlier. Naples had been free on bail.
That night in 2011, Naples was bringing her nephew home to his mother when she decided to take a brief detour, pulling into the parking lot of a closed automobile dealership to sell marijuana, authorities said.
A deputy saw what was happening in the parking lot, which is in the 4700 block of U.S. 19, but when he approached the Infiniti, Naples tried to run him over and then sped off, authorities said. A second deputy gave chase, and other deputies joined, pursuing Naples for more than 65 blocks.
The woman to whom Naples had been trying to sell the marijuana was still inside the Infiniti and was screaming at Naples to let her out.
Meanwhile, Naples' nephew, Isaiah Thomas Jr., was unrestrained in the front seat.
Naples eventually ran the stop sign at First Avenue North and 11th Street North, crashing into the driver's side of the 2002 Kia Optima Trompke was driving. His passenger survived, and Naples, her nephew and her passenger, Michelle Cruz, were not injured.
The deputy who started the pursuit was acting within the sheriff's pursuit policy. He had seen Naples try to run over a colleague, and such an assault on a law enforcement officer is justification for a chase.
Naples was charged with fleeing and eluding, vehicular homicide, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, neglect of a child, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and driving while her license was suspended or revoked.
At the time of the crash, Naples had 3.9 grams of crack-cocaine and 1.7 grams of marijuana with her, arrest reports state. Her license was suspended, canceled or revoked in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, according to the reports.