MORGANTOWN — As Alexander Hambrick waited to be sentenced to probation, the father of the girl he drunkenly ran over and killed walked to a podium in Monongalia County Circuit Court to express his feelings.
“Judge, at the end of the day, Alex gets to go home and have dinner with his family,” Brent Sears said. Brent took a moment with his head down to wipe a few tears as Mon County Prosecuting Attorney Perri Jo DeChristopher rubbed his back.
“And open Christmas presents from his family and spent time with his family and we don’t have that option.”
Hambrick did leave the courtroom with his family as he was sentenced to prison after completing the Anthony Center, while the Sears’ family left with only memories of Carli Sears — the woman Hambrick drunkenly ran over.
Hambrick was drinking with friends at a downtown establishment. He drove his truck on Stewart Street, where he went onto the sidewalk and struck Carli Sears as she walked with a friend. She died as a result of her injuries, and Hambrick fled the scene.
Carli Sears was from Charleston and was a student and member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at Ole Miss. She was in Morgantown visiting friends when killed. Her 23rd birthday would have been last week.
Hambrick previously pleaded guilty to DUI with death and leaving the scene of an accident with death.
Judge Phillip Gaujot initially sentenced Hambrick to the Anthony Center, a facility for youthful offenders. Hambrick completed that program in 10 months, a relatively short timeframe.
As a result, statute called for him to be sentenced to probation. DeChristopher called for the maximum probation time — which she said increased with new state law from five to seven years — and for Hambrick to serve a period of incarceration.
Gaujot opted for the maximum probation time, six-months home confinement and 200 hours of community service. Hambrick must also make monthly payments toward $15,000 in restitution.
Brent Sears said he was dumbfounded when he learned that Hambrick could only receive probation.
“My daughter is dead … at … the … hand of Alex Hambrick,” Brent Sears said. “Please do justice here.”
Carli’s mom Julia Sears said the last few weeks were difficult as the anniversary of Carli’s death passed.
“Ironically, he was released on the day we sent our daughter to heaven,” Julia Sears said in reference to the Hambrick leaving Anthony Center on the two-year anniversary of the day the family removed Carli’s life support.
Julia Sears told Hambrick that she didn’t believe he would understand the pain she and Brent deal with until he becomes a parent. She added that nobody, whether the Sears family or Hambricks, were leaving the court happy and she felt sorry for her daughter’s killer.
Following the hearing, members of the Sears family spoke to The Dominion Post. Julia Sears said it was difficult not knowing when Hambrick would be released from the Anthony Center.
“It’s hard to live in limbo,” she said.
The family is working hard to move forward with life, Julia Sears said, but they needed some closure to the criminal process.
“I feel some sense of a little bit of closure,” Julia Sears said following the hearing. However, Brent Sears said he didn’t believe the hearing brought any closure.
There are two civil suits related the case.
Julia Sears also noted that Hambrick is now a felon with probation to complete and in some ways that is a better punishment than jail. Hambrick will not be able to vote, to obtain professional-job approval and other restrictions. Family also said he will have to remember what he did each month when he writes a restitution check.
Though Carli Sears is no longer a living part of the Sears’ family, her memory plays a large role. Carli’s sister, Makenzie, wears a necklace featuring Carli’s fingerprint. Two scholarships were also created in Carli Sears’ memory — one to help Ole Miss sorority members and another to help campers at Camp Twin Creeks, where Carli frequented.
Donations for Sorority Scholarship can be sent to: Brent Sears at 1841 Devondale Circle, Charleston, WV 25314. Donations for the Camp Twin Creeks Scholarship can be sent to: American Camp Association, C/o Andrea Stealey and Camp Twin Creeks Scholarship, 5000 State Road 67, North Martinsville, IN 46151.
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