CROWN POINT | Jason Cozmanoff, 44, received a 12-year prison sentence Friday in the hit-and-run that killed Lake County Corrections Officer Britney Meux and injured three fellow officers on March 6, 2012.
Lake Criminal Judge Salvador Vasquez imposed the maximum sentence requested by prosecutors. A jury convicted Cozmanoff, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, on 13 counts on Dec. 11.
Among the 13 counts were reckless homicide, criminal recklessness, failing to stop after an accident and reckless driving.
Legal wrangling between defense attorney James N. Thiros and Lake County deputy prosecutor Mark Watson occupied the majority of the sentencing hearing.
On one count, Watson said two different state laws govern reckless driving and reckless homicide. Vasquez ruled reckless driving was what caused Meux’s death and that double jeopardy doesn’t apply to one of the counts. Vasquez did merge seven counts.
Emotional victim impact statements affected the courtroom audience.
“It hurts every day. It has affected my health,” said Meux's mother, Jacqueline Meux. “I have to explain to (Britney’s child) what happened to her mother and what kind of a mother she was. It still haunts me.”
The three other Lake County officers injured by the hit-and-run also spoke.
Latasha Johnson said the hit-and-run changed the course of her life.
“I’ve lost my natural ability to do what I wanted in life. I can’t be in law enforcement,” she said. “I had to depend on my 6-year-old to tie my shoes and my 10-year-old to comb my hair.”
Both of her children continue to experience anxiety over her safety, Johnson said.
“We (the officers) would have run to help you,” she said. “You left us lying on the side of road like roadkill.”
David Murchek said he’s disappointed Cozmanoff showed “a lack of caring, a lack of emotion” during the trial and sentencing.
“I thank God every day for my faith, my family and friends,” said Murchek, who has returned to duty. “I can forgive you.”
But that doesn't mean he's forgotten.
“Three times a week, my dreams end with a car hitting me,” he said.
Delano Scaife told Cozmanoff he caused harm to families, including the law enforcement family “who lost sister, a co-worker, one of my lifelines.”
The “unimaginable pain” that lingers from his injuries and the depression that’s resulted from the loss of his plans “have made me feel I was unworthy of being a man. There’s guilt because I’m still here,” Scaife said.
“Just because I’ve forgiven him, at the same time he should face the consequence,” Scaife said.
Jacqueline Meux also spoke of the idea of moving on.
“I want to put this behind me, but I can’t," she told Cozmanoff. "I have to forgive you in order to keep going. You should thank God you have a chance. She (Britney) doesn’t have a chance."
Vasquez cited the statements of forgiveness in sentencing Cozmanoff.
Cozmanoff gave a brief statement apologizing for his actions, citing his three children as being drastically affected.