Man gets 8-year term in fatal hit-and-run of boy

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An Augusta man will spend eight years in prison and another 12 on probation for the hit-and-run death last year of a 12-year-old Athens boy who was bicycling near his home in Southeastern Clarke County.

A Clarke County Superior Court judge sentenced Joseph Patrick Armstrong late Wednesday afternoon, after the judge accepted a plea agreement between prosecutors and the 24-year-old Gainesville State College student.

Armstrong struck and killed Gedera Thomas early the morning of June 8, 2008, after he and friends spent the night drinking in downtown Athens. Armstrong told police he thought he had struck a dog.

The crash, not far from Thomas' home on East Whitehall Road, happened two months before Thomas was to begin sixth grade at Coile Middle School.

The boy's mother, Barbara Robinson, said Wednesday she thought Armstrong deserved a stiffer sentence, but she went along with the plea bargain because she didn't want to take the chance that he might be acquitted.

"Something is better than nothing," Robinson said.

She was glad that Armstrong took responsibility, she said, noting that he cried and asked for forgiveness at his sentencing.

"He said he wished he could take it all back," she said.

"I hope he learned his lesson, but no amount of time he gets will bring back my baby, and I'm always going to miss my baby," Robinson said.

As part of the deal, Armstrong pleaded guilty to first-degree homicide by vehicle, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, and prosecutors dropped a second vehicular homicide count.

Judge Steve Jones ordered that during his first year of probation, Armstrong can only drive to school, work or for medical services.

Even then, his car must be equipped with a device that checks his breath for alcohol before it can start, the judge ruled.

Armstrong had a previous alcohol-related arrest, in 2004, and was sentenced to a year of probation for underage alcohol possession and using someone else's driver's license. As a condition of probation at the time, a judge ordered him into treatment at Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia in Augusta.

After a night of bar-hopping last summer, Armstrong made a pit stop at his home on Wakefield Terrace, off Barnett Shoals Road and about a half mile from Thomas' house, Athens-Clarke police said. He left again to drive friends to a mobile home park off Danielsville Road.

At about the same time, Thomas and his 17-year-old brother slipped out of their house and were riding their bikes to see the older brother's girlfriend on Cedar Shoals Drive.

Armstrong's truck passed the older boy, who was riding about 10 feet behind his brother, then swerved right and struck Thomas, police said.

The collision woke up the pickup's front-seat passenger, and Armstrong told him that he had struck a dog, according to police.

A tipster - someone who knew that Armstrong's pickup had been damaged and that police were investigating a fatal hit-and-run - told police that Armstrong might be involved and was bringing his truck to an auto body shop.

The police were waiting for Armstrong at the shop and arrested him.

Comments (43) Add comment
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justus4
107
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justus4 10/01/09 - 08:01 am
0
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Wow! The mother said,
Unpublished

Wow! The mother said, "something is better than nothing" meaning this guy could've gotten off in the mother's mind. Which means: This driver was a non-minority. He was drunk. He killed a boy. He left the scene. He tampered with evidence. He got 8 yrs, probably will do five. A minority involved in a hit & run, without fatilities, would get eight years. This sentence is a complete disgrace! Another example of why equal justice in this country is just a pipe dream. Again, WoW!

tlnvols
0
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tlnvols 10/01/09 - 08:10 am
0
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Champ why would you say he

Champ why would you say he was non_minority??

stovall st
0
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stovall st 10/01/09 - 08:14 am
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He will only serve 3 years

He will only serve 3 years max. What is he gona learn from this ?Another slap on the wrist.

LolaJean
1
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LolaJean 10/01/09 - 08:19 am
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FUBU4, please produce

FUBU4, please produce evidence to back up your statement. Go back to your black panther rally. I have seen much shorter sentences for both whites and blacks in similar cases. Everybody loses here. I'm not excusing drunk driving but this 12 yr old kid needed better suprvision. By the way, his deadbeat dad showed up after all this happened and the family instantly had their hand out and they got paid long ago. Quit your racist, woe is me, the white man held me back, cant catch a break, life isnt fair, racial profiling rants!

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 10/01/09 - 08:24 am
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The only thing this person

The only thing this person will learm is that he will have a record that will follow him for the rest of his life.

onlynaugusta
41
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onlynaugusta 10/01/09 - 08:25 am
0
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This is crazy. I've seen

This is crazy. I've seen tougher sentencing for animal cruelty. We are becoming a world than cares less about humanity.

Fiat_Lux
15991
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Fiat_Lux 10/01/09 - 08:32 am
0
0
Justus, you're a racist pig,

Justus, you're a racist pig, and an arrogant know-it-all race-baiter. Bet you wouldn't have had any problem with the sentence if the dead boy had been white. Just remember that if you sow the wind, you'll reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)

CCR09
0
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CCR09 10/01/09 - 08:47 am
0
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Please tell me what this

Please tell me what this child being supervised has to do with him being hit by a drunk driver. And this was not his 1st offense. What does his 'deadbeat dad' have to do with him being KILLED by a drunk driver? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! This driver should have received more thatn 8 years becasue this was his 2nd offense for driving drunk. Whenever it's a black child, that child was not supervised or his parents was not involved. The child is DEAD..no matter what the circumstances or color, he was MURDERED by a DRUNK DRIVER.

creolechick
72
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creolechick 10/01/09 - 08:47 am
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onlyaugusta - I"ve never seen

onlyaugusta - I"ve never seen a tough sentence for animal cruelty. Look at Michael Vick. And Justus should be taken off this board. There is nothing in this article about race & yet you have to make it about race. You are one of the biggest racists on here & I wish they would ban you.

Fiat_Lux
15991
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Fiat_Lux 10/01/09 - 09:01 am
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Ditto, creolechick. He's the

Ditto, creolechick. He's the kind of person who makes otherwise colorblind white people scared spitless of people like Obozo. God help us all if, underneath all the smooth rhetoric and protocol bungling, we have a President whose worldview and mindset are like Justus4's. It sure would make sense of a lot of his destructiveness to our nation.

hr69
13
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hr69 10/01/09 - 09:02 am
0
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You're an idiot Justis. Your

You're an idiot Justis. Your kind give your minority race a lot of the problems that you claim you still encounter. Step up, be a man. not some little boy that has to hide behind your race and claim everyone that is not black is against you. find a new argument. America may not be where you think it should(it sure as hell is not where I think it should be), but too many minorities are making a positive name for themselves in this country (and this area-Ed Tarver) for folks like you to still be crying this damn river. Grow up, man up. Take charge of your own destiny. The half minority President we ALL have took charge of his.

lawyerdude
29
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lawyerdude 10/01/09 - 09:03 am
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For those of you who don't

For those of you who don't know, Steve Jones is an African American and a great judge in Athens. I don't think the judge saw it as a matter of race. One life is over and another is in the judge's hands. Does the judge snuff out that life as well? Tough case for any judge. I am sure Judge Jones did what he thought was fair under all the circumstances - he should never be faulted for that.

LolaJean
1
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LolaJean 10/01/09 - 09:05 am
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"Please tell me what this

"Please tell me what this child being supervised has to do with him being hit by a drunk driver"...He'd been at home sleeping like most 12 year old boys instead cruising down the middle of the road at 1am on a saturday night.... "This driver should have received more thatn 8 years becasue this was his 2nd offense for driving drunk"- How do you know pal? Were you the arresting officer, or the judge in that previous drunk driving adventure? As I mentioned before, Everybody loses in this situation. I obviously feel horrible for the innocent child. Where did I menton that its only black kids who are unsupervised? Good try, Damned! His dad, like many other White (yes thats right, WHite and black kids) was not involved. These people sued and were paid practically before the next weekend. By the way, that still wasnt enough, because they had their hand out soon after. Tell your boy or girl FUBU4 quit injecting race into evry article that he or she reads. I was responding to that trash.

creolechick
72
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creolechick 10/01/09 - 09:17 am
0
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lawyerdude - I just googled

lawyerdude - I just googled the judge & yes he is black. Now what's justus4 going to say? We probably won't hear anymore from him about this. He can't cry racist now! He only knows how to post cries about racism. Poor little Justus.

CCR09
0
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CCR09 10/01/09 - 09:35 am
0
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"Armstrong had a previous

"Armstrong had a previous alcohol-related arrest, in 2004, and was sentenced to a year of probation for underage alcohol possession and using someone else's driver's license. " It's in the article. And since I don't know anyone personally on this site, I can't tel "MY Boy" anthing. My point was that instead of focusing on the perpetrator, you made it about the victim. Like I said, what does your comment of him being supervised has to do with this guy receiving ONLY 8 years. I don't care what race was involved. Focus on the GUY who hit this child, left the scene then tried to cover it up.

Rolling Eyes
247
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Rolling Eyes 10/01/09 - 09:36 am
0
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Trying to inject a hidden

Trying to inject a hidden racist agenda into each and every article is not only unrealistic and offensive, but it dilutes the impact when true racial problems arise and ought to be addressed. Crying 'wolf, wolf, wolf' at every opportunity causes people to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the issue. Ones who do that lack credibility and should be ignored.

LolaJean
1
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LolaJean 10/01/09 - 10:06 am
0
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Hey Damned: You may want to

Hey Damned: You may want to actually read the article next time. You stated, "This driver should have received more thatn 8 years becasue this was his 2nd offense for DRIVING DRUNK. Here is what the article says, which you quoted,"Armstrong had a previous alcohol-related arrest, in 2004, and was sentenced to a year of probation for underage alcohol possession and using someone else's driver's license. "....Theres a big difference in minor possession and drunk driving...Also I like how you highlighted MY "BOY" comment but didnt note that I also referred to Justus as possbly a girl. So it wasnt some racist, call the black guy Boy comment. Good try on making that comment a racist one too. I cant argue with people with small racist minds such as your self. I stated that the I felt bad for the victim. Am I not allowed to focus on other circumstances of this incident? If hes black, I guess not.

CCR09
0
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CCR09 10/01/09 - 10:19 am
0
0
Well since he tried to use

Well since he tried to use someone else's driver's license, that must have happened while he was WALKING drunk. Again, you are still rationalizing about this guy. And since you can only resort to a form of name calling or degradation you are the one with the small mind. You are a joke and are not worthy of further responses from me.

LolaJean
1
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LolaJean 10/01/09 - 10:22 am
0
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Last time I checked, you need

Last time I checked, you need your driver's license to enter a bar, possess alcohol, or purchase it. Jeeez

CCR09
0
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CCR09 10/01/09 - 10:25 am
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So when someone gets arrested

So when someone gets arrested and convicted, their past offenses are not taken into account? 1st offese drug/alcohol related...2nd offense driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? That's a pattern. Jeeeeezzzz.

LolaJean
1
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LolaJean 10/01/09 - 10:33 am
0
0
You are a joke and are not

You are a joke and are not worthy of further responses from me.
Posted by DamnedNoMatterWhat on Thu Oct 1, 2009 10:19 AM...I thought you were finished? Just admit that you thought he'd been arrested for drunk driving before and that was your arguement for why he should gotten more time. Wipe the off your face and move on.

Fiat_Lux
15991
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Fiat_Lux 10/01/09 - 10:37 am
0
0
Get a grip, you two. It's not

Get a grip, you two. It's not worth your time to argue over this.

CCR09
0
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CCR09 10/01/09 - 10:41 am
0
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Keep making excuses. I know

Keep making excuses. I know what the comment said. My point is focus on the guy who hit this kid..he was innocent. Whether the parents sued or his father was a deadbeat is inconsequential to this boys death. You are trying to defend wheterh he 'minor' possession and a DUI. It's a pattern of druga nd alcohol abuse. After the first ime of being placed on probation for a year, he still decides to drive SLOPPY drunk. He broke the law and when you kill an innocent child while driving DRUNK you deserve more than 8 years. It was another DRUG or ALCOHOL related offense and that is why he should have gotten more than 8 years. Now post another reason as to why it was the parents fault or the child should have been home, to keep the attention off this repeat offender.

sugar babe 74
0
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sugar babe 74 10/01/09 - 10:42 am
0
0
for some getting beer is just

for some getting beer is just like getting cigaretts,some time someone else will purchase it for them .and no matter the color my heart aches for this poor mother,she will never see her son again,no one can imagine what a tragic experience that is unless it happened to them.

Roeschen
1
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Roeschen 10/01/09 - 10:46 am
0
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I didn't see the race of

I didn't see the race of either the driver or the child mentioned in this article anywhere. How do you know the kid was black? I think someone's life is worth more than 8 years but I was not the judge and do not know all the facts of the case. Maybe if everything was known, we all might think differently.

EARL84
0
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EARL84 10/01/09 - 11:11 am
0
0
-Hey AC, here's a tip: Every

-Hey AC, here's a tip: Every one of justus' posts are exactly the same, so why don't all of his/her posts get removed?
-Hey Damned, no more caffeine this today, por favor. The man pled guilty to the crime, and now has plenty of time to think about it in jail, and it will forever be on his mind the rest of his life, and after he dies, so calm down. He's not getting the electric chair much to your dismay. It doesn't work like that here.
-Not to speculate or defend DUI in any way whatsoever, but I wonder whether a sober driver would have seen the boy in the middle of the road on a turn?
-Sad story, I pray for both families involved, and perhaps people will remember this case the next time they decide to get plastered and drive around, and that parents might think twice about allowing their kids to go ride bikes at that hour of the night. Trust me, girlfriend or no girlfriend, there is NOTHING good going on the roads at that hour.

REP
0
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REP 10/01/09 - 11:20 am
0
0
If it had been my child I'd

If it had been my child I'd have preferred the shorter sentence harder to get to in jail. nuff said.

LolaJean
1
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LolaJean 10/01/09 - 11:46 am
0
0
Earl84, According some people

Earl84, According some people we're not allowed to speculate or discuss other ways to prevent people from getting runover in the middle of the road at 1am. If you do, your "trying to rationalize" for the driver or "diverting attention" from the 1 time DUI and 2time repeat alcohol offender, or you dont care about the victim. All baloney. I care for all parties involved even for those who show up for the pay day. Bottom line-Dont drive drunk and be a better parent. Explain whats wrong with either one of those statments.

anotherlook
101
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anotherlook 10/01/09 - 11:47 am
0
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Creolechick, Onlyinaugusta

Creolechick, Onlyinaugusta may be right about the sentencing. One day in a Burke county courtroom, (which is in the Augusta Legal Circuit), I witnessed a man being fined a $1000 for killing his neighbors dog that had a habit of attacking the neighbors chickens. In the same courtroom, before the same Judge, a woman who had been beaten within an inch of her life charged the man who abused her and he was only give a $100 fine and a years probation. So unfortunately it does happen.

greenest
0
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greenest 10/01/09 - 01:49 pm
0
0
What about how slack that mom

What about how slack that mom is, Where was she when her 12 year old son was out riding bikes at 3 in the morning. I agree with his charges but where are her obvious neglect charges?

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