No more jail for Sperber after hit-and-run sentencing

Mark Sperber appeared in Brown County court on Friday, May 23, 2014. (WLUK)

GREEN BAY - A Door County man will not be headed back to prison after being sentenced Friday morning for a deadly hit-and-run crash.

The incident happened in January 2011.

Mark Sperber, 42, was originally sentenced to 10 years in prison in February 2012. He served 25 months of that sentence.

Sperber was granted a retrial and earlier this week he agreed to a plea deal.

It was an emotional day in Brown County court for the Kennedy family as they talked about their son and brother, John. The 20-year-old, who was wheelchair-bound, died after authorities say Sperber hit him with his truck on Velp Avenue.

“Why couldn't you have stopped and helped him?” said Jeff Kennedy, the victim’s father. “That's all we ask.”

Sperber says he left the scene, thinking he hit a garbage can.

“It was not a murder,” said Brian Maloney, Sperber’s attorney. “This was an accident. He wasn't intending to hurt anybody.”

“Two years is not enough for taking a life and I know it doesn't come close to bringing John back, but it would be comforting to know that John's death isn't being treated like it was just a garbage can,” said Alyssa Kennedy, the victim’s sister.

Sperber apologized to the Kennedy family.

“Every night I go to bed I struggle knowing that I took John's life and I really have a hard time dealing with that,” said Sperber.

As part of a plea deal, the prosecution agreed not to recommend any prison time for Sperber beyond the 25 months he already served. Judge William Atkinson agreed.

“Life is not fair and nothing I can do will make it fair,” said Atkinson. “Sending this man to the maximum time in prison will not make it fair. It will not diminish your pain.”

After court, Kennedy's mother, Colleen, said she can't be upset with the judge for his decision. She says she just hopes the family can heal now that a decision has been made.

“There is no fair,” said Kennedy. “There is no bringing John back. That would be the only fair thing.”

Kennedy was in a wheelchair after being paralyzed in a different vehicle crash in September of 2009.

Sperber and the defense did not want to comment after court.