Tribune-Courier New Editor
BENTON — A Marshall County Jury recommended the maximum sentence for Tiffany Pittman after the sentencing portion of her trial Tuesday.
The jury convicted Pittman, 20, Paducah, on Friday of second degree manslaughter and wanton endangerment related to the Aug. 15, 2011 death of Stephen J. “Jimmy” Harper in an alcohol-related automobile wreck.
Dallas Harper, 26, son of Jimmy Harper, said his family was relieved that the trial was over and pleased with Pittman receiving 10 years for the manslaughter count and 5 years for wanton endangerment. The jury also ordered Pittman's sentences to run consecutively.
Commonwealth's Attorney Mark Blankenship asked the jury for the maximum sentence.
“Fifteen years is long enough, especially considering she will be eligible for parole after serving just 20 percent of her sentence,” Blankenship said. “It's possible, if she gets a lighter sentence, she could be out of the penitentiary before the victim would have seen his 50th birthday.”
Jimmy Harper was 45 at the time of his death.
“We don't agree with the 20 percent,” Dallas Harper said. “But every time she is eligible for parole, my family and I will be there to say no. She won't be forgetting about us.”
Dallas Harper said Pittman's emotional testimony and remorseful behavior did not sway his opinion of her.
“No amount of tears will bring my father back,” Dallas Harper said. “Like I said during testimony, I forgive her, but I won't forget what she's done.”
Pittman returned to the witness stand earlier in the day to ask for leniency.
“No words will explain how sorry I am. I would do anything to bring him back,” Pittman said. “I'm glad you have forgiven me and didn't expect anyone would ever forgive me.”
Pittman said she regularly thinks of Jimmy Harper and spends the 15th of each month in vigil of his death.
Misti Gale Flint testified as Pittman's mother. She said her daughter had been involved in several extracurricular programs in school and was a straight-A student before being diagnosed with mental illness at 15.
“Tiffany always tells me to think about how it would feel if I was in (the Harpers') shoes,” Flint said.
The passenger in Pittman's car, Holly Hiett, took the stand in her friend's defense. She said she forgave Pittman for the wreck.
Pittman told her friend from the witness stand she was sorry for involving her in the incident.
Pittman added she is hopeful of working with groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving to warn young people of the dangers of impaired driving.
“I'm a mother, but I am also a drunk driver, and I want to help other people,” Pittman said.