WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a recent high school graduate in a fit of road rage should spend at least 20 years in prison after an emotional sentencing at which he, the victim’s family and even the judge cried.
David Desper was sentenced to 20 to 40 years, and the judge told him she didn’t believe he acted out of fear as he contended.
“If you’re afraid, you hit the brakes. I believe it was anger,” she told him, tearing up. He faced a maximum of 45 years in prison.
Desper pleaded guilty to shooting 18-year-old Bianca Roberson in the head in West Goshen Township last year after they jockeyed for space while merging onto a highway.
Before the sentencing, Roberson’s mother told the court her 22-year-old son had died and Bianca was her only remaining child. She said she’ll never “get to hear that word, ‘Mom,’ again,” then looked at Desper and shouted, “I hate you!” WPVI-TV reported .
In a separate statement, the girl’s father said his questions for Desper were simple.
“Why in God’s name did you shoot my daughter? Because she was young? Because she was black? Because she was a girl? Because you wanted to go first on the road? Because you had a bad day?” he asked.
Desper, who is white, looked down and cried as the family spoke. He later addressed the court, sobbing.
“I’d do anything to take it back,” he told the judge, and then turned to face the Roberson family, saying through tears, “I really would. I’m so sorry.”
He repeatedly apologized to them.
The defense said Desper was driving home when a car came up and startled him. He took the gun and fired it in what his lawyer called a mistake.
Desper’s mother, Wendy Desper, testified she shared a story about the shooting on Facebook right after it happened, saying she wanted police to find “the jerk who killed that high school graduate,” only to later learn it was her son.
“I understand that she’s not a mom anymore because of my son and his actions,” she said of Roberson’s mother, adding she prays for Bianca.