Michele Traverso Sentenced To Less Than a Year For Killing Cyclist; Carlos Bertonatti Still Awaiting Trial

Categories: Crime
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Michele Traverso
It's been a terrible week for Miami's bicycle activists. First, a judge sentenced Michele Traverso -- who killed cyclist Aaron Cohen last year on the Rickenbacker Causeway in a brutal hit-and-run -- to less than a year in jail, even though he'd been driving on a suspended license. Then, this morning comes word the county plans to eliminate the causeway's bike lane altogether on Bear Cut Bridge during a construction project.

Oh, and as for Carlos Bertonatti, Key Biscayne's other accused cyclist-killing hit-and-run driver: He still hasn't gone to trial for the January 2010 death of Christophe LeCanne.

See also:
- Michele Traverso Pleads Guilty to Rickenbacker Hit-and-Run That Left Bicyclist Dead
- Carlos Bertonatti's Latest Trial Delay: House Arrest Extended Until January

Traverso's sentence infuriated Cohen's family as well as cycling advocates around Miami. Traverso was eligible for up to 35 years in jail for fleeing the Rickenbacker just after 6 a.m. last February 15, after he'd plowed into Cohen and his cycling partner, Edna Walsh, before speeding home.

He didn't turn himself in until 18 hours later -- after he and his dad covered his mangled car with a tarp; despite records showing he'd been partying in Coconut Grove until the wee hours before the accident, his toxicology reports came back negative and manslaughter charges weren't filed.

Still, prosecutors asked Judge William Thomas for a six year term; Thomas, instead, sentenced Traverso to only an additional 364 days in jail. His widow, Patti, was outraged.

"We're serving a life sentence with what happened," Patti Cohen tells NBC6.

Thomas may have been swayed by testimony that Traverso suffers from an autoimmune disorder that would be difficult to treat in prison; he will serve another two years on house arrest after leaving jail. Still, Cohen's dad, who is an attorney, was also baffled.

"I think this is a situation that at least in my opinion requires a harsher sentence," he told NBC6.

The next morning after the sentencing, Miami-Dade officials announced that cyclists trying to cross Bear Cut Bridge -- the last link between Key Biscayne and Virginia Key -- would have to do without any lane whatsoever during a construction project there.

The county had already closed half the traffic lanes on the bridge as structural work is done; now, with the upcoming Sony Open tennis tournament, they worried congestion would overwhelm the bridge.

The solution? Turning the protected bike lane into another traffic lane. Bikes and pedestrians will have to chance it in traffic for now.

"We have to find a solution that works for the majority of people," County Mayor Carlos Gimenez explains to the Miami Herald.

Bear Cut Bridge is exactly where Key Biscayne's other infamous hit-and-run accident occurred, way back in January 2010. That's when police say aspiring singer-songwriter Carlos Bertonatti plowed into LeCanne and led cops on a chase through the island with his bike wedged under the bumper.

Despite LeCanne's death coming more than a year before Cohen's, Bertonatti still has yet to go to trial. He's still on house arrest after the latest continuance was issued two weeks ago. His trial is now scheduled to begin February 19.

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28 comments
tn1021yuxi
tn1021yuxi

Judge Thomas' sentence sends a message to the community that leaving the scene of an accident, even one involving death, is no big deal. Today every DUI attorney in Florida has to be looking at this and advising their clients to never stop if they get into a serious accident and instead call their attorney to map out a strategy to evade punishment.

Judge Thomas has been nominated to be a federal a judge. If he gets confirmed, Thomas will be appointed for life; he will never again have to face voters in an election. If you are as outraged about this as I am, I urge you to call or e-mail Senator Marco Rubio. As a U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio has the ability to put an indefinite hold on the nomination of any federal judge.

Because of his actions in this case Judge Thomas' fitness as an impartial, rational jurist must be called into question and his nomination must be put on indefinite hold. Call or e-mail Marco Rubio and make sure that he hears your voice!!!!!

od3052004
od3052004

Here in Miami you kill someone and you flee the scene, and you get the do not go to jail card! you get caught with petty drugs and they want to sentence you to 25 years... like wtf! I wonder if this was the Judge Son that was killed would they have given this guy 365 days in jail!

Chard Beauregarde
Chard Beauregarde

Jose so taking a man's life while blackout drunk and chalking it up to an accident means he get off with a slap on the wrist? Where's your head at?

Jose Arpajon
Jose Arpajon

Come on put away the torches and pitchforks people ! It was a freaking accident and he turned himself in. Accidents do happen and one day it can happen to you so cafefull what judgement and ill will you desire for others.

Palangana
Palangana topcommenter

The hits and run will continue until there are mandatory minimum sentences for anyone that does a hit and run.  Right now, it's strategically prudent to haul ass after hitting someone.

Terence R Waldron
Terence R Waldron

Should have at least gotten a year n a day so he would have been a guest of Fl dept of Corrections, instead of Miami-Dade. But that sentence was way too lenient.

Kassems Hammed-Owens
Kassems Hammed-Owens

I agree !!--- SHOT a youngman dead, & Zimmerman is still walking. A young (college graduate) Mother shoots a warning shot into the ceilling to scare off her abusive husband, & she is rotting in jail. What a waste !! ONLY IN FLORIDA !! Where is justice in that ?

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

He should go to jail forever...he found a loop hole in the system

Kzm Ufc
Kzm Ufc

May be he, uh.... 'stood his ground'.

Rick Rodriguez
Rick Rodriguez

I cant believe he got off with such a weak sentence...It just tells us how corrupt the legal system is here in Miami.

Lyonel Jammal
Lyonel Jammal

Damn,..I am at a lost! Lucky he is not black!

Lex Dillinger
Lex Dillinger

I think some vigilante justice is due here. Where is the GODDAMN Batman when you need him.

Lisa Concepcion
Lisa Concepcion

He should have gotten 20 years PERIOD. You kill someone and leave?? 20 YEARS!! DONE AND DONE

Ezekiel Angulo
Ezekiel Angulo

It seems our judicial system only favors the rich and the corrupt. I hope he gets raped in jail.

Rachel Goldberg
Rachel Goldberg

what's the real deal, is the judge on a kickback, were the attorney's incompetent....??

Milly Pinero
Milly Pinero

He may not be punished now by the law, but one day Karma will kick him in the ass, sooner or later.

Anneliese Morales
Anneliese Morales

This is truly outrageous!! The punishment does not fit the crime!!

Lee Glick
Lee Glick

Wasnt there an NFL Wide Receiver who did the same thing a couple years ago and all he got was 1 year probation?

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