A Russell County judge Tuesday sentenced a military veteran to a year's probation in the negligent death of a Fort Mitchell man killed last year in a wreck.
James Andrew Moore, 24, must also serve 100 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine in the January 2011 death of Cameron Lynn Craig, 39.
Authorities said Craig died after Moore struck him from behind on Highway 165, eight miles south of Phenix City, when Craig halted for a stopped school bus.
Moore initially faced no charges, and a grand jury declined to indict him, District Attorney Kenneth Davis said. However, prosecutors presented more evidence to a second grand jury, which did indict Moore on a felony count of vehicular homicide. He pleaded guilty in April to one misdemeanor count of criminally negligent homicide, court records state.
Moore appeared Tuesday for his sentencing before Judge George Greene, who heard from Craig's widow before pronouncing sentence.
Margarete Craig said her husband served in the Army for eight years and was deployed several times. She said she went into "deployment mode" after his death.
"Except for this deployment, he would not return," she said.
"All of a sudden, I was a widow and a single mother. I'd give anything to see that smile and see his blue eyes again."
Craig's widow asked for the maximum sentence -- a year in prison -- a suspension of Moore's driver's license, community service and lessons in defensive driving.
Defense attorney Jeremy Armstrong, however, said the wreck happened after his client already had stopped once for the school bus.
The bus started again and moved ahead a short distance before stopping once more.
Between those two stops, Moore briefly looked away from the road.
"Moments before this accident, Mr. Moore and his wife had received the good news that they were expecting their first child," Armstrong said.
Neither Moore or his wife, who was in the car with him, were talking or texting on a cellphone, Armstrong said.
Additionally, Moore had no alcohol or drugs in his system.
Moore spoke briefly Tuesday, reading from prepared letter.
"I would just like to say how deeply sorry I am for your loss," Moore said. "I wish you and your family the best."
A veteran of Afghanistan, Moore was injured in a helicopter crash while deployed.
He's in the process of a medical discharge, Armstrong said.
"It's a tragic situation," Davis said. "This fellow has no criminal history. He's a veteran. He doesn't even have a driving history."
However, Davis said the law requires drivers to be attentive.
"A school bus is pretty hard to miss," he added