Driver pleads guilty in death of 2 New Orleans bicyclists

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man who drunkenly drove into a group of bicycle riders after a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of vehicular homicide, averting a scheduled trial and opening himself for a possible 80-year prison sentence.

Tashonty Toney, the 32-year-old son of a New Orleans police officer, was expected to face sentencing Tuesday, the New Orleans district attorney's office said.

On Monday, New Orleans news outlets reported, he faced some of the seven people he injured when he plowed his car into bicyclists on March 2. And he heard from the mother of one of two people killed, and the widow of the other.

"No mother should never have to bury their child. His murderous rampage destroyed so many lives and I want him to get the maximum sentence," said Lois Benjamin, mother of Sharree Walls, 27.

Also killed was David Hynes, 31, a Seattle man who had gone to Tulane University in New Orleans.

"I can't bear the pain of him being taken from this world in an inexplicable instant," said his wife, Jorie Hynes.

"Tashonty, I hope you can take seriously the horrific consequences of your actions, and that you can change your life in a positive way and find a way to benefit the community," she added.

A woman who suffered severe injuries in the crash was also among the speakers.

"What matters very much to me is that Mr. Toney never drive again," said Sophie Harris-Vorhoff, whose injuries included multiple breaks in her spine and ribs, a lacerated spleen, punctured lung and punctured kidney.

The district attorney's office says the maximum sentence for the two vehicular homicide counts would be 60 years. Each count carries a five- to 30-year sentence and the sentences must be served consecutively, according to District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office.

Toney last week also pleaded guilty to multiple other related charges. News outlets said the total maximum sentence would be 80 years.

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