Man gets four years for killing teen with car | NevadaAppeal.com
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Man gets four years for killing teen with car

William Ferchland

Jesse Whitworth was placed in handcuffs Friday and taken into custody after he was sentenced to four years in prison for killing a teenager with his car.

Whitworth, 21, hardly spoke during his sentencing in El Dorado County Superior Court. His mother cried in the first row.

Friday was the four-month anniversary of Marissa Bassett’s death. Bassett, 15, was crossing the intersection at Venice Drive and 15th Street on her skateboard when a drunken Whitworth slammed his speeding car into her.

Doctors said she died instantly.

Whitworth, who spent two months in El Dorado County Jail, faced a maximum of 10 years in state prison for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He could be paroled after two years.

“I think it is fair under the circumstances,” said defense attorney David Weiner.

El Dorado County District Attorney Peter O’Hara has a different view: “I don’t think any sentence would do true justice to bring her back.”

Judge Thomas Smith said Whitworth accepted responsibility early and did not have a criminal record.

The prosecution played a 10-minute videotape of Bassett’s grandmother and aunt calling for a strict sentence for Whitworth. Teddy Post, Bassett’s grandmother, showed letters from her granddaughter. In one, Bassett said she was excited to begin high school, how she would take pictures of lighthouses for her grandmother, and showed her astonishment as to how fast she was growing.

In a speech that drew sniffles from the courtroom, mother Teddi Bassett said she was “bargaining with God for years of rehab” while she was driving to the Reno hospital where Marissa was taken by helicopter.

Teddi Bassett said she has been too sad to enter her daughter’s room.

“He didn’t do anything to help her,” Bassett said. “His passengers ran like cowards.”

Whitworth had a .08 blood-alcohol level after the crash. Witnesses described the 2004 black Subaru as a “missile of a car.”

The probation and police reports said Whitworth was more concerned about his crumpled car. One of his passengers returned after running away.

Weiner said his client understood the seriousness of the crime and cooperated with authorities. When he was bailed out, Whitworth delivered flowers to the memorial at the crash site.

“This will be with him forever,” Weiner said. “He’s changed forever.”

E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com