LOS BANOS - Justin Nappi was sentenced in a Los Banos courtroom Thursday
to seven years in prison in the 2012 DUI death of a 10-year-old headed
home from a youth football game.
Nappi, who has accumulated 577 days credit, will likely serve about five
years. He also was ordered to pay $16,000 in restitution.
Nappi had faced a maximum of 19 years and eight months in prison for gross
vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence causing injury and
driving with a measurable blood-alcohol level causing injury. All three
are felonies and carry enhancements of injuries to other passengers.
Before delivering the sentence, Judge Harry Jacobs cited Nappi’s
lack of a criminal record.
“There isn’t any way to do real justice here,” Jacobs
said. “We have two families, both torn apart.”
In December, Nappi, 22, changed his plea to no contest in the Nov. 3, 2012,
drunken driving crash that killed Jayden Thomas, who was on his way home
from a Los Banos Wildcats peewee football game in Manteca.
The Volta Elementary School fifth-grader and his family were riding in
a 1992 BMW when it was struck on the passenger side by a 1991 Chevrolet
pickup. Nappi had run a stop sign at Place Road and East B Street.
Harold Nutt, Merced County chief deputy district attorney, said Nappi’s
blood-alcohol level was 0.18, more than twice the legal limit. Nappi was
20 at the time of the accident.
Julio Inguanzo, Jayden Thomas’ uncle, said life has not been the
same since he received news of his nephew’s death.
“The night I got that phone call, I was in disbelief. My nephew was
my best friend,” Inguanzo said.
He said when he wakes from dreams about Jayden, he immediately writes down
everything he remembers so he doesn’t forget his nephew.
Jayden’s mother wrote a statement that was read by victim’s
advocate Nieves Stavitsky.
“Out of all the memories I have of my son, I will never be able to
erase the image of my lifeless son laid out in my car,” she said
in the letter. The 10-year-old’s father, Demond Thomas, said although
he has forgiven Nappi, he can never forget what happened.
Nappi sometimes sobbed as Jayden’s family and friends spoke about
the perils of drunken driving.
Christine Harbert, Nappi’s aunt, apologized to the Thomas family
on behalf of her family.
“I’m in shock (that) we have caused such pain,” she said.
Nappi read a statement in court outlining his life and how it has changed
in the 16 months he’s been in jail. He also offered an apology to
Jayden’s friends and relatives.
Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Nappi’s attorney, said he believes his client would have benefited
from probation, but is grateful Nappi did not receive the maximum sentence.
Demond Thomas said the sentence provides some closure.
“No amount of time is going to bring my son back. I can start to
move on now,” he said.