By Zach Myers
Danville, Ind (September 30, 2014) - The parents of a hit-and-run victim told the driver who killed their son they forgive him.
The statements came during the Tuesday sentencing hearing for Charles A. Parrett in Hendricks County Court. Parrett, who goes by Alex, pleaded guilty to one charge of Failure to Return to the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death. A previous charge relating to marijuana in Parrett's system was dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Parrett was senctenced to three years of home detention, followed by a year of probation.
The charges stem from February 5 this year, when Parrett struck and killed 36-year-old Robert Blankenship, was was walking eastbound along the side of U.S. Hwy 36.
Immediately after the crash, Parrett fled to a restaurant in Plainfield. He later returned to the scene, but left without identifying himself. His mother eventually took him back to the scene to talk to police. After several weeks, toxicology test results showed Parrett had trace amounts of marijuana in his system at the time of the accident.
In the courtroom, Blankenship's mother Virginia Coppage read a statement saying, in part: "I forgive you for this offense, although you caused the death of my son. In closing, I will keep you in my prayers."
Virginia's husband Richard delievered a similar message to Parrett, saying: "This can either make you bitter, or it can make you better."
Parrett also read a statement, apologizing to Blankenship's family for poor decisions he made on the night of the accident.
After the hearing, Blankenship's family told Fox59 they accepted Parrett's apology. Virginia Coppage said she hopes Parrett will come out of this situation as a better person.
"If we expect Jesus to forgive us, then we have to forgive," Virginia Coppage told Fox59. "And from the bottom of my heart, I do forgive him. He's young, and I feel that he made just some wrong choices."
At the time of the accident, Parrett was a freshman at Wabash College and a Wide Receiver on the football team. During the hearing, Parrett's attorney told the court he was no longer a student at Wabash College. But he has applied to attend college at IUPUI. He would be allowed to attend college under the conditions of the plea agreement.
Virginia and Richard Coppage said they hope Parrett will continue his education and keep his life on a positive path in the future.
"I hope he makes better choices in life," Virginia said. "And I hope he can come to the place to where he can help others."
Richard Coppage also said he hopes Parrett will share his story with other young people.
"And let them know that this can happen," he said. "The choices you make do affect other people. And if one family can be spared then Robert's death is not in vain."