Actor Pablo Lyle has been sentenced to five years in prison following his manslaughter conviction for a 2019 road rage killing in Miami.
Lyle, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, appeared in a Miami-Dade courtroom Friday afternoon for the sentencing hearing.
The 36-year-old Lyle, a Mexican telenovela star, had faced between 9.25 and 15 years in prison. But Judge Melisa Tinkler Mendez showed leniency, giving him a sentence below the guidelines after noting that his remorse was genuine.
"Nobody here is going to be satisfied, nobody here is going to forget the pain that's been caused," Tinkler Mendez said in handing down the sentence.
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In addition to the five-year prison sentence, Lyle will also serve eight years of probation, 500 hours of community service, and must attend anger management classes. He will receive credit for time served.
"In my opinion, his conviction was wrong, it remains wrong," said Lyle's defense attorney, Phil Reizenstein. "It will be vigorously challenged on appeal. He's innocent. He didn't break the law in the state of Florida. He was defending his family. But the sentence was fair based on the judge's consideration of what we presented to her."
Fighting tears, Lyle apologized to the family of the victim, Juan Ricardo Hernandez, before he was sentenced by Tinkler Mendez.
"I can only imagine the pain of losing a loved one, someone that important, especially in a situation like this," Lyle said. "I think about it every day. I pray that this day will bring you closure and that whatever happens today you can leave this courtroom with grace in your hearts."
Hernandez's family members also spoke Friday and had asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
"He was such a joyful person, very caring to everyone," son Juan Ricardo Hernandez Jr. said in Spanish through an interpreter. "A beautiful person, there are no words to describe who my father was."
A video of the victim's mother who remains in Cuba was also played in court.
"She believes in justice and asks for justice to be served so I ask all of those present and your honor for justice to be served in the memory of my father," Hernandez Jr. said.
A jury in October found Lyle guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 road rage incident that left the 63-year-old Hernandez dead.
A security camera video showed Lyle rushing up to Hernandez and punching him in the face. Hernandez died after hitting his head on the pavement.
"That Mr. Hernandez lost his life because of something I did, something that walks with me, it haunts me when I go to bed and it's still there when I wake up," Lyle said. "I never wanted any of this to happen, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined something like this could have happened, that life could be lost and so many others affected so drastically in just a matter of seconds and just one punch."
Defense attorneys argued that Hernandez started the incident when he got out of his car and pounded on the window of the car Lyle was riding in at an intersection.
They also argued that Lyle was defending his family against what he thought was a threat posed by Hernandez.
"I'm so very sorry from the bottom of my heart," Lyle said. "I truly thought I was protecting my family."
But prosecutors said Hernandez had walked away and was heading back to his car before the punch. They also said that three witnesses testified that Hernandez had his hands up in a defensive posture and that there was no reason for Lyle to hit him at that point.
Lyle's brother-in-law, Lucas Del Fino, who was with him the day of the incident, spoke on his behalf Friday.
"I truly hope that we will be able to find peace," Del Fino said. "I'm truly sorry about the fateful events of that day."
His sister, Silvia Lyle, also spoke on his behalf.
"Pablo has the same qualities, the same heart, since he was a child," she said in Spanish through an interpreter. "He's a good man, and believe me, he's sorry."
Lyle became emotional when his wife, Ana Araujo, went before the judge.
"It's easy for everyone to judge a split-second reaction that you had and does not define you as a person," she said.
Lyle had sought a new trial but a judge in December denied his request.