HILLSBORO, Ore. – The man who hit and killed an 11-year-old girl in her front yard last year pleaded guilty Thursday to criminally negligent homicide.
David Herman will serve four years with consideration for time served. Judge D. Charles Bailey also revoked his driver's license for life, saying, "This was tragic. Tragic in the sense that it was completely preventable."
Herman blamed a diabetic episode for crashing into Kylie Hornych in front of her Aloha home in April 2013, killing her.
Initially prosecutors had decided not to charge Herman with a crime until new evidence discovered by On Your Side Investigator Anna Canzano forced them to reopen the case.
Herman has been in the Washington County Jail since October last year.
In August, the On Your Side Investigators found that he had lied to investigators, saying he’d never had an issue with his blood sugar while driving. But a 2007 crash in Washington County, in which he’d crashed into a tree, occurred after he had some kind of illness or blackout that was diabetes related.
That information somehow never made it to the prosecutor.
In court, prosecutor Bracken McKey laid out the case. He described how in the follow-up investigation, Herman's medical records revealed constant mismanagement of his diabetes. McKey said Herman never reported his 2007 crash to his doctor, which would have resulted in his driver's license being taken away.
Herman never tested his blood sugar three times a day, as he was instructed to do by his health care provider. Records showed the last time Herman had filled a prescription for his blood sugar test strips was in December of 2012, four months before slamming into Kylie. McKey said Herman had spent months estimating the amount of insulin he needed to regulate his condition.
McKey also described two other incidents in the weeks following Kylie's death, during which Herman needed emergency medical care because he wasn't managing his diabetes. In one case, he passed out and needed stitches. In another, he blacked out en route to Spirit Mountain Casino and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
Kylie’s grandmother, Carolyn Duffy, said Herman’s plea and sentencing isn’t a victory and closure because his sentencing won’t bring her granddaughter back.
“It’s a day where I hope we can make aware of what happens and what could happen when you choose to be irresponsible and not take care of your medical condition, whatever that may be,” Duffy said.
Duffy brought to court pictures Kylie had drawn and a photograph of her granddaughter to show Herman and make him face the reality of what his decisions took away.
The whole family also wore purple or green – Kylie’s favorite colors.
During her victim-impact statement, Kylie's mother Kellie Hornych talked about being in an emotional prison. In the 343 days since her daughter died, Kellie has wondered if Kylie had felt pain, if she saw Herman's Toyota Prius speeding toward her. She said she's haunted by her final moments with her daughter's corpse, not knowing until later that the white sheet pulled up to Kylie's chest covered her array of injuries, including a broken arm and the tire impressions on her chest.
"David Herman isn't the only one doing time. He handed a life sentence to those who knew and loved Kylie," said Kellie.
Kylie's father, Daniel Hornych, spoke of several ironies in the case. He pointed out Herman's profession as a science teacher at Liberty High school, saying the day Kylie was struck and killed, she was getting ready to go to the school science fair. Of Herman's background as a dentist in the Army and Navy, Daniel referenced himself as a fellow soldier, saying to Herman, "Duty, honor, sacrifice...we trained you better than that."
Daniel also shared statements written by Kylie's younger sister Kyra, 10, and her older brother Daniel Jr., 15.
"Kyra writes 'Kylie was my best friend,'" he read. "I miss hearing her voice."
"And Daniel says, 'Kylie was the purest person I knew.'"
Kylie's father told the court, "I look at David Herman no different than a murderer. He put the community at risk every time he drove. As you heard, he was a gambler. He gambled with people's lives."
Herman was given an opportunity to speak as well.
He stood, facing the judge, his voice breaking at times, and said: "I don't expect forgiveness from Kylie's family for the sudden unexpected death of their daughter. The loss of a child preceding their parents is a difficult thing as I can recall, when my brother died in a car wreck at age 21. My poor parents were besides themselves at the time with grief. What I can offer is my sincere apology for the death of their daughter and how sad and remorseful I've been since the accident."
With consideration for time served, Herman has roughly 3.5 months left in his sentence. He will serve the remainder of his time in state prison.