- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—CLEARWATER — A St. Petersburg man on Tuesday was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the deaths of three women killed in a fiery hit-and-run wreck last summer.

In June 2014, Marquice Anderson, 28, was driving a Chrysler 200 south in a northbound lane of 16th Street when he struck a 2004 Saturn making a left turn into a parking lot near Ninth Avenue South, St. Petersburg police said.

Two women, Briana Lequinda Campbell, 23, and Jame’sia Chera Santoria Lang, 21, were trapped inside when the Saturn burst into flames. They died at the scene. Grace Lashawn Collier, 25, an aunt of Campbell and Lang, died at Tampa General Hospital.

All three women were mothers, which came up at court proceedings Tuesday when Anderson entered a guilty plea to three charges of vehicular homicide, driving with a revoked license and leaving the scene of an accident. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Michael Andrews sentenced him to 35 years in prison followed by 15 years of probation. Andrews also permanently revoked Anderson’s driving privilege.

Members of the women’s families spoke before the court, and said how hard life has been since the wreck. Among the women, six small children were left motherless.

By the time Anderson is out of prison those children will be adults, Andrews said, and Anderson will have plenty of time to think about the lives he has affected and the people he caused pain.

“Nothing that I can do today is going to bring back those beautiful women,” Andrews said before the sentencing.

Anderson apologized to the family before he was sentenced. He burned his hands in the fire, and said he tried to help the women escape the burning car, but could not.

“I may have left the scene before the authorities arrived, but I did not leave without trying to help those women,” Anderson said. “I would just like you guys to know that I did do everything I could.”

Police named Anderson a suspect shortly after the wreck, and authorities, including the U.S. Marshal Service’s Fugitive Task Force, launched a manhunt to find him. Anderson turned himself in four days after the wreck.

Anderson’s case was set to go to trial Tuesday before the plea was entered.

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