Byers Levy was riding his bicycle around Lake Hollingsworth on a Sunday afternoon when Ronald Akins – who had been drinking – veered across the double yellow line and into the bike lane, striking and killing Levy.
Akins, 78, pled guilty to DUI manslaughter on Jan. 13 and tried to convince Judge Durden at sentencing Friday that he was sorry for the death of 59-year-old Levy and that his plea was a reflection of that. Durden said he didn’t find a plea indicative of true remorse; he sentenced Akins to 10 years and five months in prison and almost five years of probation.
Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter asked Durden to sentence Akins to 15 years, adding that Levy paid the ultimate price for Akins’ decision to drink and drive, so Akins should “suffer the most harsh penalty allowed under the law.”
Levy’s family echoed Nutter’s request.
“A life sentence has been imposed on this man (Levy) that will last longer than any sentence you impose on this man (Akins). It’s unforgivable,” said Spencer Phelps, Levy’s younger brother, who struggled to stay composed while addressing Akins. “I hope the enormity of the wrong you’ve done to others settles over you every day, as it does to those who love Byers.”
Akins’ family asked the judge to use discretion because of his failing health, and his attorney referenced his multiple ailments from an affidavit his doctor provided. But Nutter also submitted an affidavit stating the Department of Corrections is capable and equipped to handle any and all of Akins’ health issues.
Durden said that Akins’ decision to not take the case to trial showed some responsibility, but it was not sufficient to outweigh the law.
After his sentencing, Akins told the judge he feels remorse for everything that happened, especially when he’s near Lake Hollingsworth and sees people on their bikes. He also expressed his concern about who would take care of his wife when he’s in jail.
Durden reminded him that the lives of many people have been greatly affected by his decision to drink and drive, including Akins’ own family.
“That’s a consequence of virtually every case where there’s a victim,” Durden said.