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Updated: 5:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, 2012 | Posted: 12:55 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, 2012
UPPER ST. CLAIR, Pa. —
An Upper St. Clair man convicted of involuntary manslaughter and other charges stemming from a crash on Interstate 376 in 2010 that killed three people was sentenced to 30-72 months in prison Tuesday.
Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning found 21-year-old Ryan Safka, of Upper St. Clair, guilty of all counts back in February. Each guilty count carries 10-24 months in prison.
State police said the car's onboard computer showed Safka was driving 106 mph when the car went airborne over an embankment and crashed killing three passengers on Feb. 21, 2010.
Safka's attorneys said the computer overestimated the speed by recording tire rotations while the car was airborne.
Safka’s new attorney is also planning an appeal claiming his client’s first lawyer never called a black box expert to challenge the prosecution’s speed claim.
Legal analyst and defense attorney Phil DiLucente said he thinks the chances are good that an appeals court could order a new trial.
“Anytime a lawyer doesn’t have proper experts or they don’t put forward the proper steps necessary to give an opportunity for acquittal, that will take place,” DiLucente said.
The crash killed 20-year-old Derek Phillips, 20-year-old David Rizzo Jr. and 18-year-old Tara Schulz, all of Upper St. Clair.
David Rizzo Sr. said knowing the man responsible for killing his son is going to jail still doesn’t make things right.
“It hurts. I don’t know how to explain it, but if I could be where he’s at and he could come here, I would definitely trade places,” Rizzo Sr. said following Tuesday’s sentencing.
Derek Phillips’ mother, Janet Phillips, said each day since the crash has been filled with emptiness.
“He was my only son and I can’t begin to tell you what life is like without him,” Phillips said.
Phillips added that she thought the sentence was fair and hopes it sends a message to other young drivers to avoid speeding.
Previous Story: Man found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 Parkway West crash
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