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Driver sentenced to jail for East Deer crash

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 12:18 p.m.
Freddie Knight

A Wilmerding man will spend five to 10 years in prison for a hit-and-run accident that cost an East Deer woman her leg, an Allegheny County judge ruled Wednesday.

Freddie Knight, 40, pleaded guilty in December to causing an accident involving death or serious injury, resisting arrest and related charges for the Feb. 3, 2012 accident in which he struck Tammy Roberts, 48, outside the Creighton Hotel in East Deer.

“I apologize for the accident,” Knight told Judge Edward J. Borkowski, who also sentenced him to two years of probation and ordered him to pay $11,000 in restitution.

Roberts, whose right leg was amputated as a result of the accident, said the restitution was important to her.

But she also asked Borkowski to give Knight a stiff sentence.

“Realistically, I don't think I'll ever see that money,” Roberts said. “I know he's sorry, but you know what? He ruined my life for a while. I was a working woman. I can't even do that. I can't even go to work anymore because of his stupidity.”

Prosecutors said Knight struck Roberts with his 1990 purple Ford Mustang about 10 p.m. as she and her boyfriend, Pete Gearhart, were leaving the restaurant.

Police spotted Knight's car on Route 908 at Howes Run Road about an hour later and Knight led police on a chase at speeds reaching 70 mph to 80 mph on Route 908.

His car skidded out of control and he fled into the woods. Police chased Knight on foot for several hundred yards before they found him hiding in some brush.

An officer used a Taser on Knight when he refused to put his hands up.

Knight claimed the wreck was caused when a truck hit him from behind.

Knight's attorney, Owen Seman, said his client is a “very talented mechanic,” but the only way he could pay Roberts back is if he works.

“The injury here is substantial. It's devastating,” Seman said. “However, it was an accident.”

Seman said Knight wants to “put his life back on track” for the three children Knight and his fiancee support.

He asked the judge sentence Knight to spend 11 12 to 23 months on house arrest or in alternative housing.

Borkowski said Knight's criminal history — he spent time in jail for a burglary in 1992 and in 2003 on a firearms conviction — “failed to impress upon him the need to conform to the laws of society.”

Roberts said Wednesday's sentence “closes this door and hopefully it opens another door to something good.”

“I can't say I forgive him, but I hope he does get help. I think he needs it,” Roberts said of Knight.

“I will walk again,” Roberts said. “Things take time. I've got a lot of time these days.”

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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