Driver who killed 5-year-old boy in hit-skip sentenced to 1 year

Light sentence for hit skip driver who killed five-year-old boy
Israel Thornton was killed. (Source: Family)
Israel Thornton was killed. (Source: Family)

A Bedford man has been sentenced to one year in prison for a hit-skip that left a 5-year-old Cleveland boy dead.

Jerome Lee, 24, has already served 217 days in jail and will only serve 148 more.  

Israel Thornton was struck by a vehicle in Cleveland on Oct. 25, 2013 at the corner of Denison and W. 37th as he was running to catch the school bus. 

With only a few grainy surveillance photos from inside a bus to go on, and even grainier surveillance video, it took 10 months for investigators to track down the driver. The big break was a tip to Crime Stoppers.

At the sentencing, prosecutors played a surveillance tape of the accident from a nearby building, describing it for the judge.

"And then you see Israel, and then he's struck by the vehicle. You can see the lights clearly illuminating."

Prosecutors pointed out that the driver hit the brakes after hitting the boy, indicating he knew he struck something. Still, he took off. 

Cleveland accident investigators found front-end damage to Lee's vehicle, a 2012 Kia Sorrento, but it could not be proven Lee caused the boy's death. So a plea deal was arranged.

Part of the deal included an agreed-upon sentence of one year. Homicide charges were dropped because prosecutors simply didn't have the evidence to prove it.

"He left my son there to die. No compassion. No sympathy. No nothing," said Israel's father.

The judge told him the law tied his hands.

"There is no justice that will satisfy the family. There is no justice," the judge responded.

Since Lee already served jail time, he will only remain in jail for about five more months. Israel's father showed his outrage as he punched the door open leaving the courtroom.  

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