Judge rejects plea deal in fatal Detroit hit-and-run, sentences driver to 2-15 years

Brain Garner sentenced in connection with death of Michael Cavanaugh

DETROIT – A Detroit judge rejected a plea deal for a fatal hit-and-run driver, instead sentencing him to two to 15 years in prison.

As part of the plea deal, Brian Garner admitted he struck and killed Michael Cavanaugh on Jefferson Avenue in August 2018. But there was one part of the agreement Judge Qiana Lillard wouldn't accept.

"If you or anyone would ask me the one word that I think of when I think of Michael Cavanaugh, it would be 'home,'" a family member said.

Garner turned himself in hours after the hit-and-run crash.

"It's noble and everything that you turned yourself in and that you accepted the responsibility for what you've done, but the reality is, you have to face the consequences," Lillard said.

Garner's consequence was supposed to be just one year in prison with five years or probation, but Cavanaugh's family didn't think that deal was fair.

"I often question our justice system," a family member said. "I feel the justice system, in this case, is thinking more about you and your favor, but yet, you are not the victim."

Lillard agreed with Cavanaugh's family.

"It's just unprecedented in my experience on this bench and I cannot, in good conscious, looking at the facts of the case, follow the sentencing agreement that you all put in place," Lillard said.

She gave Garner an opportunity to speak in court.

"I just apologize for what happened and I hope the family forgives me," Garner said.

Lillard handed down her own sentence and Garner will spend two to 15 years in prison.

Cavanaugh's family spoke outside the courtroom, saying they're pleased with how the judge handled the case.

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