Three teenagers apologized to their victim Thursday in a Pennsylvania courtroom prior to being sentenced for throwing a rock from an interstate overpass that struck the woman in the head, causing severe brain damage.
Union County Court Judge Michael Sholley handed down sentences for Dylan Lahr, 18; Tyler Porter, 19; and Keefer McGee, 18, after the young men apologized to Sharon Budd for the incident that changed her life, according to The Associated Press.
The three had been accused of throwing a nearly 5-pound rock off an Interstate 80 overpass that crashed through the windshield of Budd’s car, striking her in the head, according to The Canton Repository. Prosecutors alleged the incident was the culmination of a day-long spree of vandalism that saw the young men shoplift steaks, break out the window of a home and drive a vehicle through a cornfield, causing damage, the AP reports.
The rock reportedly destroyed much of the 53-year-old teacher’s skull, part of her brain, and one eye.
Budd and her husband were passengers in the car, driven by their daughter, and were traveling from their home in Ohio to see a show in New York on July 10, 2014.
McGee, who testified against his friends, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in June, The Repository reports. Lahr, who was believed to have thrown the rock, also pleaded guilty to criminal trespass, agricultural vandalism and two counts of aggravated assault at the same hearing. Porter pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault in July.
Lahr’s older brother, 20-year-old Brett Lahr, was sentenced in June to 18 months to 20 years in prison after pleading no contest to a conspiracy charge for his part in the crime.
Budd and her husband, Randy Budd, made the trip from Ohio Thursday to be in court for the sentencing hearing.
“I’m sorry, Sharon,” Dylan Lahr told her, reading from a yellow sheet of paper. “I feel horrible for what has happened.”
Porter told Budd he was “incredibly sorry,” according to The Repository.
McGee also apologized, telling the woman, “I shouldn’t of let my friends do what they did.”
District Attorney D. Peter Johnson took exception to McGee’s statement, saying it sounded as if he wasn’t taking responsibility for his actions.
“Calling these things bad choices or mistakes, I think, demeans what it is,” he told the judge.
Sholley seemed to agree, telling McGee, “You’re as culpable as everyone involved.”
Sholley sentenced Dylan Lahr to 54 months to 20 years behind bars. Porter was sentenced to 22 months to 10 years. McGee was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months and is immediately eligible for work release from county jail. He will remain on probation for eight years.
The other three will all serve their sentences at state prison. If released upon serving their minimum sentences they will all remain on probation for many years, according to the AP
Budd told The Repository she thought the teens’ apologies were sincere.
“I got goosebumps,” she said.
“I thought the judge would be just, and he was,” she added of the sentences after the hearing, according to the AP. “It's hard to look at their faces and not feel bad for them.”