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Man gets 70 to 140 years in police chase crash that killed 3

June 5, 2019

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 70 to 140 years in prison in a Thanksgiving Day 2016 police chase that ended in a collision with a car that burst into flames, killing the driver, his fiancée and their toddler daughter.

Demetrius Coleman, 25, of Pittsburgh apologized to the victims’ family Wednesday before sentencing, saying “I understand it doesn’t mean much, but I never intended to hurt their relatives.”

Jurors in Allegheny County deliberated for about 14 hours in March before convicting Coleman of third-degree murder and other counts. The crash happened in North Versailles about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from where police in East McKeesport had stopped Coleman for making an illegal left turn.

Prosecutors said police pursued Coleman through 18 intersections, and he was driving at times more than 100 mph. Video from a nearby restaurant that was played for jurors showed the car speeding into the intersection and plowing into the side of the victims’ car, which erupted into a fireball.

Killed were three members of a Pitcairn family on their way to a holiday dinner: David Lee Bianco, 29; Kaylie Meininger, 21, his fiancée; and their daughter Annika, 2.

Coleman testified during trial that he fled out of fear and didn’t remember any part of the chase or the crash. Defense attorney T. Brent McCune unsuccessfully sought an involuntary manslaughter conviction. At sentencing, McCune successfully argued that a statute cited by prosecutors seeking a mandatory life term didn’t apply in his client’s case.

Common Pleas Judge David Cashman told the defendant that his life had been controlled by drugs.

“You thought ‘I could go out on a highway and do whatever I want with impunity,’” Cashman said. “The only thing you did was cause devastation to one family after another.”

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