PHOENIX - Arizona dump truck driver Michael Jakscht, convicted of numerous charges for the 2010 deaths of four motorcyclists, has been sentenced to a total of 26 years Friday.
Friday night friends and family gathered at the intersection where the crash happened at 27th Avenue and Carefree Highway to say a prayer.
"It is hard, " said Lorri Lizarraga. "This is where they died. Being here is hard but healing too."
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Welty has set aside the entire day for the proceedings.
Jurors returned guilty verdicts against Jakscht on 13 charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and endangerment after an August trial.
Jakscht plowed his 12-ton truck into a group of motorcyclists stopped at a north Phoenix traffic light on March 25, 2010. Four motorcyclists died and five others were injured in the fiery accident.
Phoenix police said toxicology tests showed Jakscht had methamphetamine in his system. Jakscht's attorneys had argued that he had taken diet pills and that the brakes on his truck weren't working well.
In court Friday Jakscht compared the accident to an "act of God" similar to a hurricane.
"I may have only some scars on my hands and legs, but the scars on my mind will be there forever." said Jakscht.
Family and friends of the nine victims spoke after the court proceedings.
Ernie Lizarraga, a former Phoenix Fire Captain, was one of the motorcyclists and suffered severe brain damage from the accident.
"He'll be pretty old when he gets out," said Lizarraga, "He took four of my friends….this was a big hurdle, but I have a lot more hurdles to overcome and it's time to move on."
Lizarraga's wife Lorri was disappointed the sentence was not life, but even more disappointed that Jakscht never faced the families.
“He could've turned around in that courtroom and addressed all of us and chose not to. He's kept his back to us like he's done for two and a half years. He doesn't care,” said Lorri Lizarraga.
Jakscht’s attorney Robin Varcoe told Judge Welty that they advised Jakscht not to address the families and victims.
“We didn't think it was enough. We felt like he should have spent the rest of his life in Jail. He did kill four people and ruin the lives of five or six others," said Frank Rich who lost his step daughter Dayle Totanchi in the crash.
The wife and daughter of Clyde Nachand also spoke; relieved to see the court proceedings come to an end.
"We're ready to say good-bye to Mr. Jakscht. He's monopolized two and a half years of our lives,” said Susan Nachand-Prestidge.
ABC15's MaryEllen Resendez was live tweeting from the courtroom:
@maryellenabc15 at 1:50 p.m.: Jakscht sentenced to 26 years for the deaths and injuries caused when he plowed his dump trunk into a a group of motorcyclist.
@maryellenabc15 at 1:37 p.m.:"I do not believe that Mr. Jakscht was stumbling drunk or stumbling impaired" said Judge Welty
@maryellenabc15 at 1:35 p.m.:Court back in session. Judge Welty now sentencing Michael Jakscht. "This is not an accident...this is a crime."
@maryellenabc15 at 11:48 a.m.: Judge Joseph Welty says he will pronounce sentencing at 1:30 this after noon. Court is now in recess.
@maryellenabc15 at 11:47 a.m.: Prosecutors and victim families want 120 years. Defense says it's not appropriate, "They are asking Mr. Jakscht to die in prison."
@maryellenabc15 at 11:42 a.m.: There are several cases where people were charged with multiple manslaughter charges and they were sentenced to 4-10yrs, said his atty.
@maryellenabc15 at 11:42 a.m.: He would love to look at the families in their face and say he is sorry, We advised him not to, said Jakscht attorney.
@maryellenabc15 at 11:41 a.m.: For anybody to say he is not remorseful don't know the real Mr. Jakschtsaid his attorney.
@maryellenabc15 at 11:38 a.m.: Jakscht asked for a mitigated
@maryellenabc15 at 11:38 a.m.: "I have scars on my hands and legs but the biggest scar is on my mind...I am sorry for this accident." said Jakscht
@maryellenabc15 at 11:36 a.m.: Jakscht now speaking. "I understand this from an intimate point of view. My own"
@maryellenabc15 at 11:35 a.m.: For every day for the rest of his life he'll remember. We will all remember what happened said Frank Kelley.
@maryellenabc15 at 11:34 a.m.: Frank Kelley now speaking for Jakscht. "Things happen. It was an accident. It's not like Jakscht thought about it in bed."
@maryellenabc15 at 11:32 a.m.: Devin Lukaszewski now speaking for Michael Jakscht. "Life changing events happen to people every day. We can't foresee them."
@maryellenabc15 at 11:30 a.m.: I see a good man. He is not a monster. Please show him mercy. Said Juror #3
@maryellenabc15 at 11:29 a.m.:A juror is speaking in defense of Michael Jakcsht. Juror #3. "I see a person who cares about people...he tried to help"
@maryellenabc15 at 11:07 a.m.:Court is recessing ...defense will bring up their witnesses to argue for a lighter sentence next.
@maryellenabc15 at 11:05 a.m .: Judge Joseph Welty concerned