SPENCER -- A 29-year-old Quincy woman has been sentenced to six years in the Indiana Department of Correction for leaving the scene of a 2011 accident that claimed the life of a Cloverdale Middle School student.
Tabitha Blake Lucas, formerly of Greencastle, was sentenced to six years in prison with two years of initial executed time and four years suspended to probation.
The fatal Jan. 22, 2011 hit-and-run accident occurred along State Road 42 in Owen County as 12-year-old Billy Bottoms and a friend were returning home from a dance at the Cunot Community Center about 9:30 p.m.
Billy Bottoms, a sixth-grader, succumbed to his injuries the following day at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis.
After sentencing, Lucas was immediately taken into custody to begin serving her time following an Oct. 23 hearing before Owen Circuit Court Judge Frank Nardi.
In a change of plea hearing last May, Lucas had pled open to the charge of failing to stop after an accident resulting in death (a Class C felony). She faced a sentencing range of 2-8 years in prison.
An emotional three-hour sentencing hearing included testimony from Investigator Dan McBride, accident reconstructionist Charlie Bollinger, Probation Officer Adrienne Winks, friend of the family Kristi Edwards and Terrell Bottoms, father of the victim.
"This has been an emotionally taxing case for all of the parties involved," Owen County Prosecutor Don VanDerMoere said, "especially the friends and family of Billy Bottoms.
"We hope that the resolution of this criminal case brings some measure of comfort to those who knew Billy," VenDerMoere, a former Putnam County deputy prosecutor, added.
Both Judge Nardi and defense counsel Paul Watts explained in court that Lucas was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, not with causing the youngster's death.
Lucas testified that she did not see the youngster walking along the edge of the roadway and wearing dark clothing. She said she realized she had hit something, and when she turned around and came back to discover a group of people standing over the injured boy, she reportedly panicked.
She reportedly left the scene, drove to her sister's home and told her she had struck a deer.
Also arrested as a result of the investigation were her now-estranged husband, William Tracy Lucas, 37, Louisville, and her father, 49-year-old Mark C. Blake of Greencastle. Both men are facing jury trials on obstruction of justice charges in Owen Circuit Court.
The two men allegedly worked to repair the windshield and hood of Tabitha Lucas' car to conceal the damage caused by the collision.