ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The driver involved in a fatal hit-and-run of a Brasa Rotisserie employee last year in St. Paul has been sentenced to four years in prison.
In November, Jose Hernandez Solano was riding his bike home from his job as a dishwasher when he was hit by Dustin Hegner Royce, who drove off after the crash. Hernandez Solano was severely injured and died at the hospital a few days later. According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video and debris found at the crash scene led investigators to Hegner Royce.
On Wednesday, through many tears, the court began to get a picture of Hernandez Solano. While much of his family lives in Mexico, it appeared he was loved like family by his co-workers in St. Paul.
“He was like a big brother – bringing us humor,” said Dan Whelan, a Brasa co-worker.
“He worked so hard and never complained, he worked hard to connect, I miss his childplay,” said Maraeka Hoover, a Brasa co-worker.
In court, Hegner Royce said he panicked and he apologized for his actions.
“I am truly sorry,” said Hegner Royce. “There is no excuse to what took place.”
Hegner Royce’s stepmother, Jennifer Baker, took the stand, pleading with the judge to give her stepson a lighter sentence saying he is not a monster.
“I stand before you begging this court to not right a wrong with another wrong,” said Baker.
After all the testimony, Judge Nicole Starr said there was no sentence that would make things right, but did indicate she did not believe Hegner Royce was necessarily remorseful.
“I know that you are a person who can change and I know you are a person who has much potential,” said Starr. “I know that you are sorry in this matter, but I’m not completely sure what you are the most sorry for.”
She sentenced him to four years in prison; he received credit for five months of time served. The maximum penalty was five years. Even after the sentencing, the heartbreak continues.
“I miss you Jose,” said Georgia Meyers, a Brasa co-worker. “I love you, Jose. You were truly a cherished gift from God.”