CROWN POINT — A Gary man was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for running a man on a dirt bike off the road in 2015 and leaving him for dead because he was angry about a confrontation they had earlier that day.
Lavardis L. Casey, 42, said he was sorry for "the accident" and that he "went from being the victim to the defendant" when he didn't stop to call 911 after hitting the back of Shawn Johnson's dirt bike.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell told Casey the Sept. 8, 2015, crash, on 45th Avenue in Calumet Township was no accident.
"This was intentional and depraved," Boswell said. "You gave no thought to what would happen if you hit him with that car."
Casey initially chased Johnson because Johnson kicked a mirror on Casey's vehicle during a confrontation over a woman. Casey lost sight of Johnson and drove to a location to look for him, according to court records.
Later, Johnson pulled his dirt bike in front of Casey as they drove on 45th Avenue and Casey struck the back of it, launching Johnson more than 30 feet. Johnson suffered a spinal injury and is now a paraplegic.
Boswell said Casey had time to cool off, but instead he lay in wait before a second confrontation with Johnson.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Judith Massa asked Boswell to sentence Casey to a maximum term of 12 years in prison, including six years for battery causing serious bodily injury and six years on a habitual offender enhancement.
Casey was arrested 26 times in a span of 23 years, and Johnson's case marked Casey's ninth felony conviction, she said.
"Mr. Casey has made a career out of making other people miserable," Massa said.
Defense attorney Adrian Guzman said a long term of imprisonment would cause hardship for Casey's mother and two children. Casey owes about $11,000 in child support, but has been making regular payments since 2017, he said.
Guzman said Casey's convictions stemmed from drug cases, not violent crimes. Casey's neighbor testified Casey has worked to clean up their alley and helps other neighbors.
Massa read a letter from Johnson's sister Nicole Doeing, who now cares for her brother in her home.
Johnson worked as a tree climber for a landscaping business, but can no longer climb trees, Doeing wrote.
"He can't walk. He can't get up and play with his daughter," she wrote. "Not only were his legs taken, his quality of life was severely diminished."
Johnson lost everything and had to start over, living a life forced on him by "someone who didn't have the authority or right" to decide Johnson's fate, she wrote.
Johnson sat in a wheelchair during the hearing, but Massa said he was too emotional to make a statement and trusted his family to speak for him.
After Boswell pronounced the sentence, Casey asked if he could have two weeks to prepare with his family before being taken into custody.
Boswell said no.
"You've had years to prepare for this," she said.
Outside the courtroom, Johnson said he was glad the case was over. Family members said they thought Boswell remained focused on the facts and was fair.
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