Enrico Taylor, the man who plead guilty in the hit-and-run crash that left an Army sergeant severely injured, was sentenced on Wednesday to serve nearly 16 years in prison for the crime.
In November, Taylor pleaded guilty to two felony charges of assault after he was accused of hitting two Army recruiters in a parking lot and dragging Sgt. 1st Class Travis Torgerson under his Jeep for nearly a mile. On Wednesday, Ramsey County Judge Judith Tilsen sentenced him to serve 15 years and 8 months.
"We are pleased with the sentence today because it provides a measure of accountability for the defendant's criminal behavior and blatant disregard for the life of both victims," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said following the hearing.
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Torgerson suffered broken bones and numerous severe abrasions to his tailbone and lower back that required skin grafts to heal.
"I could've been dead from this," he reflected in his first-ever on-camera interview with Fox 9 News. "My kids are lucky to have me. He's not dead; he's going to prison. He has an opportunity to get out and still see his family in the end. This could've been the doom of me."
Torgerson is still in pain, and he fears he may have to live with that for the rest of his life.
"I'm just happy to be alive," he said. "Holy hell -- I was dragged for a mile."
Torgerson admits he is glad Taylor got the maximum sentence he could, but admits its difficult to forgive.
"I will never forgive him -- not for the pain, not for what he's done to my son, who had to see the tubes stuck down my nose in the hospital. His birthday party was in the hospital so I could be there. Will I forgive that? No," he said.
Torgerson said he may walk with a limp for the rest of his life because of the crash after serving overseas in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia. He added that he will always believe the injuries he sustained in Woodbury are never supposed to occur in Minnesota.
Taylor gave a tearful impact statement before the packed courtroom, begging for forgiveness as he asked for a stayed sentence. In the end, Tilsen didn't buy it.
"Tears and all, I can't believe you're sorry for anything other than ending up in court again," she said.
Meanwhile, a mix of emotions are afflicting Taylor's son, who says although he empathizes with Torgerson, he says his family must live knowing the 53-year-old may spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"These decisions were made with anger -- to place my father in jail, possibly for the rest of his life," Enrico Taylor Jr. said. "Now, I don't have a father and my son doesn't have a grand dad. How do I explain that to him?"
Prior to the plea deal, Taylor faced charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, criminal vehicular operation, gross negligence, criminal vehicular operation, great bodily harm and criminal vehicular operation, failure to stop and report.
The felony assault charges were added in October after prosecutors amended the criminal complaint with additional details from witnesses explaining Taylor knew Torgerson was under the vehicle, even stopping and exiting to try to kick him loose before driving off once more.