Cortnee Brantley was allowed to walk out of the courthouse. But she will have to turn herself in, likely in the next 30 to 60 days, and head to prison.
Judge Moody sentenced her to 12 months and 1 day in prison for her actions, or lack of actions, after two Tampa police officers were shot and killed.
At sentencing Monday, it was an extremely emotional day.
Kelly Curtis the widow of Officer David Curtis addressed the court, saying, "On June 29th, 2010, I lost my best friend and my husband of 10 years.
"Ever since I have been trying to pick up the pieces."
She and David had four boys together. They are now 12, 11, 8, and 3.
She told the court, "I had to teach my 12-year-old how to shave. My 11-year-old wants to know why he can't have one more day fishing with his dad…and my 8-year-old wants to play one more game of baseball with his daddy.
"When my youngest was 2, he asked me where his daddy was. How do you answer that to a 2 year old?"
As Kelly Curtis spoke, Cortnee Brantley wiped away tears. Then the two mothers of the officers got up to speak.
Cindy Warren, Officer Curtis' mom, said she was not only always the best mom, but she knew 'choices' affected everything. She told the court and Cortnee:
"You chose to drive a car that did not have a tag on it."
"You chose to answer a late night call from a felon."
"You chose to give Dontae a ride that night"
"You chose to drive off leaving David and Jeffery dead on the side of the road."
She told Cortnee, "If you had just called 911, you would have saved our children."
Sandra Kocab, Jeffery's mother walked up, having to compose herself. "I stand here with overwhelming grief. Nothing that will ever heal."
She read from the dictionary and the Bible. "Love is kind. Love is patient.'
She told Brantley she doesn't know a mother's love for her child. "She had not only broken our hearts but scattered our lives."
Then Brantley got up herself, with what appeared to be some encouragement from her attorney.
She said briefly, " I want to let the families know how truly sorry I am. I am remorseful. I do feel guilty."
The judge appeared conflicted then as to what sentence he would hand down. Sentencing guidelines called for 12 to 18 months.
He told those in the court, "As hard as it is for many of us to understand how she could know the officers were shot and drive away without saying anything to officials, we also have to understand that's not against the law."
(A duty to report comes under a person's 5th Amendment rights)
"So in spite of society's outrage, we have to keep in mind what her duty is."
He said she has a clean record. She is not a danger to society and is not a risk to re-offend. He said he had to balance the facts of the case with the law.
He told Brantley, "We all make choices in life. Some are misguided by who we love."
And then he handed down the sentence: 12 months, 1 day in prison.
Afterwards, Brantley would not speak to reporters. Her attorney, Grady Irvin, said, "At the end of the day, I have to respect the judge's sentence and It was a very difficult case and it's one I don't think this area will ever see again."
As for her spending a year in prison, Irvin said, "She'll be fine, she'll be fine. She's not as reported. She's not a bad person at all. Not a bad person at all."
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said after the sentence, "We are satisfied with the outcome, however I want to remind everyone that there are no victors in this whole incident. Nobody has won. Today just turns the page in a horrible chapter in the history of the Tampa Police Department and hopefully brings some level of closure to the families of Officer Curtis and Kocab."
Chief Castor was asked if this case is a reminder to others, to report crimes and help when their information can catch a dangerous person.
"I don't believe our community as a whole needs a reminder to get involved when it's necessary. That you don't have to be told by a statute to get involved and do the right thing. It should be a part of your character and your essence as a human being. It's common decency and character that should dictate ones actions and I believe Cortnee Brantley is not a representative of our community."
Brantley will self-report to prison as soon as a spot is found for her.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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