PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Mount Lebanon man convicted of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of recklessly endangering another person for an accident that killed a young mother last year will face a minimum of one year in jail and five years of probation.
In September, it took a jury less than four hours to find Benjamin Cope guilty in the June 2010 crash that claimed the life of Lisa Styles.
Styles was jogging along Washington Road — pushing a stroller with two of her three young children — when Cope struck her.
“My wife wasn’t anger, my wife was compassion; my wife was forgiveness,” said Styles’ husband, Brett. “She was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful woman.”
During his sentencing hearing today, Cope, 21, cried on the stand and apologized to the family. He also shared a story in which he said he turned the stroller around so Styles’ children did not have to see their mother. He said Styles reached for her children and he kept telling her how sorry he was.
Before Cope took the stand, Styles’ friends and family tearfully read statements to the court. Her husband testified that the accident shattered their perfect life with their three young children. He also addressed Cope telling the 21-year-old: “You got out of this without a felony. I urge you to do something with your life.”
“I know that Ben Cope didn’t intend to kill my wife. I know that the accident also didn’t come out of a vacuum; that he lived in a household that permitted such behavior to occur,” Brett Styles said after the hearing ended.
The prosecution asked the judge for Cope to be incarcerated for as many as 16 months; this afternoon, the judge handed down a sentence of one to two years in jail with five years of probation.
Judge Anthony Mariani told Cope his actions were a disregard of all responsibility, and the court and victim’s family “need to feel that justice is done.”
Though Cope was found not guilty of homicide by vehicle while DUI during his trial, the judge did find him guilty of a separate charge of driving under the influence of a controlled substance because marijuana was found in his bloodstream. He was also found guilty of three summary offenses for running through a stop sign, failing to yield to a pedestrian and reckless driving.