FORT MYERS, Fla. A North Naples man was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for his role in a crash that killed a man headed to his 80th birthday party.
Zachary Kureth, 25, of North Naples, pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide and two reckless driving charges after the April 19, 2016 crash on Interstate 75. He’d been placed on probation 11 days prior to the crash for a DUI conviction.
Kureth intentionally stopped his car in the southbound lanes between Daniels Parkway and Alico Road after a car driven by Sarasota resident Robert Weinland swerved into his lane, investigators said.
Weinland, who died in the crash, was on his way to Southwest Florida International Airport to fly to Italy, where he was to spend his birthday with family. The crash left Weinland’s wife, Gisela, with serious injuries.
“I’m not going to break down crying,” Gisela Weinland said Friday in court. “There are no more tears left.”
Kureth wiped tears from his eyes as he took the stand during Friday’s hearing and expressed remorse to Gisela Weinland.
“I really am sorry for this situation,” Kureth said. “It’s not fair that you lost your loving husband. I wish that day happened differently.”
Kureth faced as much as 12 years in prison, based on the scoresheet that determines sentencing guidelines in Florida. Prosecutors asked for 10.
But Judge Ramiro Manalich opted for the shorter sentence after the Weinland family asked that Kureth receive at least five years. Kureth will get credit for 15 months served on his six-year sentence, putting it in line with the Weinlands’ request.
“My main regret in this arena is that I can’t do the perfect sentence,” Manalich said. “The perfect sentence will be the one that will place the parties back before all of this happened and prevent all of this suffering and that, obviously, is impossible.”
Kureth will be under state supervision for 10 years after his release, and won’t be allowed to drive for the first five of those years. He’ll have to take an anger management course, undergo substance abuse and mental health evaluations, and perform community service at a trauma center.
Sentencing had been scheduled for Tuesday, but Manalich said he wanted more time to come to a decision.