CROWN POINT | Peace eludes 35-year-old Veltor Cotton.
The Gary resident said Thursday that he is haunted by images he was shown of the two men he killed Aug. 20, 2005, in a drunken driving crash. He told Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez he still doesn't remember the crash.
"I haven't found one shred of peace in my days and nights," he said.
Cotton was sentenced Thursday morning to 30 years in prison for causing the deaths of Alex Edwards and Anible Macklin.
A jury convicted him last month of two counts of causing death while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and two counts of reckless homicide.
Witnesses told police Cotton drove at a high speed on Aug. 20, 2005, weaving in and out of traffic along Broadway before cresting a hill, going airborne and landing on the bumper of Edwards' van.
Edwards and Macklin were trapped inside the van, which exploded in flames. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Mary Edwards said she knew she couldn't live forever with Edwards, her husband of 35 years. But, she said she always thought the man people remember as good-hearted would die with dignity. He fed the destitute after hours at Domino's Pizza, where he worked.
Cherese Macklin wept Thursday as she read a letter from one of her sisters in the courtroom. Anible Macklin was the father of 15 children, all by the same mother, and a role model for others, she said.
"I just want him back so much," Cherese Macklin read. "I try to think of anything to ease the pain. My graduation (in 2007) was one of the saddest days of my life because my father was not there."
Deputy Prosecutor John Burke said the victims were "extraordinary men who did extraordinary things."
Defense attorney Paul Stracci said Cotton and his family also lost that night.
Stracci leafed through a bound book of 98 letters written to support Cotton. The courtroom was packed with the victims' families and Cotton's supporters.
Cotton's mother, Sandra, said her son was a good man and father who simply was overwhelmed by his life. He hasn't been the same since the accident, she said.
Cotton was ejected from his car that night and suffered head injuries. Tests showed he had a blood-alcohol concentration of nearly double the legal limit, Burke said.
Vasquez denied a motion to correct an error and denied Cotton a new trial. Cotton still can appeal his sentence.