FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - A jury convicted a Faulkner County man on numerous charges in connection with a wreck that killed a 12-year-old boy.
A jury found Michael Fowler guilty of negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and driving while intoxicated. Prosecutors said during his accident he also struck and killed 12-year-old Garrett Martin; Fowler's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
"I just want to apologize for what I done," a tearful, apologetic Fowler said as he was being led to his cell.
The crash happened on Burgess Road last August. Prosecutors said Fowler was driving a pickup truck and struck Martin, who was riding an ATV. Police arrived to find Martin dead in the roadway.
"After he struck and killed the victim, he kept driving and had to be forced over a knife point," said Deputy Prosecutor Troy Braswell.
Prosecutors said what's worse is that Fowler had been drinking and told passengers in his truck to tell people they hit a deer.
"Driving while intoxicated has serious consequences, and in this case, it cost a family their 12-year-old son," said Braswell.
Thursday, a jury sentenced Fowler to 55 years in prison, but if he becomes eligible for parole, he could get out in 9 years and 2 months. It's a sentence Prosecutor Cody Hiland said is not justice for Martin's family.
"The jury gave him the maximum they could give him. I think the travesty in this is that it's a 1/6 parole eligibility. I think that is an embarrassment to this state. I think that is a disservice to the Martin family and families all across this state," exclaimed Prosecutor Hiland.
Garrett Martin's family and friends all wore the color green in the court room--Garrett's favorite color. During sentencing, Martin's parents gave emotional testimony describing to jurors one of the hardest parts of losing their only child was the overwhelming silence throughout their home.
Fowler had already been convicted of four felonies before the accident, including breaking and entering and residential burglary.
Michael Fowler allegedly hits, kills Garrett Martin with car in Wooster
Michael Fowler expected in court today for fatal hit-and-run of Garrett Martin
Deputies investigating fatal hit-and-run of 12-year-old