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Sentencing delayed for driver in double-fatal hit-and-run crash

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Allen County Judge John Surbeck asked to delay sentencing for a man accused of leaving the scene of a fiery crash that killed a young couple in 2017.

Surbeck called it an "unusual request" but said he needed more time to decide Justin Votaw's sentence because of the complexity of the case. 

Votaw entered guilty pleas to five counts of leaving the scene of an accident in Allen Superior Court last month. He was the driver of a 2002 BMW involved in a Feb. 20, 2017 crash with two other vehicles in the 1800 block of West Jefferson Boulevard. 

The crash killed 23-year-old Jonny Tracy, 24-year-old Alisa Arseneau and injured three others. 

He faces 16 and a half years in prison, according to Indiana Code sentencing guidelines.The prosecution asked the judge for an 8 year sentence with one year suspended during a hearing on Friday. 

There was emotional testimony from all three of the families involved. Votaw's family asked for mercy while the families of Tracy and Arsenau asked for the maximum sentence.

Votaw was visibly emotional as several people went before the judge to ask for leniency. His father, brother, fiance and friend were among them. 

His father described the situation as a tragedy on both sides. He said Votaw has a great heart and is compassionate. He went on to say that Votaw was raised to tell the truth and he did. He said his son is very remorseful about what happened.

Votaw's fiance told the judge that he is a good father and always teaches their children accountability and responsibility. 

Testimony for the prosecution came from both victim's parents and a couple who was hurt in the crash. 

The couple was in a third car that crashed into Tracy's after he lost control. The man and woman argued that Votaw showed his true character when he left the scene of the crash. They said he didn't deserve to be free and that he should suffer as they have as a result of the crash.

Arseneau's mother and father tearfully addressed the judge.They said it had been 445 days since they have been able to hug their daughter. Alisa Arseneau died on her mother's birthday. Her mom described waking up from nightmares of the fiery crash and talked about the family now having to go through counseling.

Of the six people involved in the crash, he was the only able bodied person, she said. She went on to say, instead of helping he ran.

Tracy's sister told the judge that innocent people don't run. She said there will never be a way to make this right and there will be no justice for their families.

Tracy's mother looked directly at Votaw and told him that she does not want the loss of her son and his girlfriend to be in vain. She said she wanted him to make good decisions moving forward and hoped his actions in the future would not affect anyone else in the way their family has been impacted.

Votaw was the last to speak. He addressed the families directly. 

He said he wanted to reach out to the families for a long time. He said he could not imagine what they are going through and thanked them for their forgiveness. He said he wants to give them answers and  apologized for their loss. He said he wished he had the opportunity to meet Tracy and Arseneau.

Votaw's sentencing is scheduled for June 8. 



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