SEATTLE -- Emotion poured forth in a packed King County courtroom Friday as relatives spoke about how the death of 23-year-old Blake Gaston destroyed their lives.
Their words were directed at the man who killed Blake.
"The memory of what happened -- that picture haunts me day and night," said Mary Gaston, Blake's mother.
She read a letter to the judge as the man who killed her son sat ten feet away, looking straight ahead.
Caleb Floyd was sentenced to 34-months in prison for vehicular homicide in connection with an accident in Bellevue on October 4, 2013. The level of THC in his bloodstream registered nearly twice the legal limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter.
Floyd made a plea bargain in which he acknowledged he was high on marijuana when he failed to yield, turning in front of Blake motorcycle, causing a collision.
Mary Gaston had just said goodbye to her son after a family dinner at a restaurant that evening when the accident happened.
"I heard the thud, and I knew -- I knew immediately that he had been hit," she said. "The force of the impact resulted in a horrific death. I know because I was there. I watched my son die."
Sentencing hearings allow relatives, friends and others to speak or submit letters about how the case has affected them, or about the character of those involved. It is also a chance for supporters of the victim or the defendant to ask for a harsher or more lenient sentence.
Blake's mother asked for the upper end of the sentencing guideline, which is between 26 and 34 months on the vehicular manslaughter charge. The misdemeanor DUI charge calls for nearly one year in jail.
"I have no desire for Mr. Floyd's family to suffer because of what has happened," Mary told the judge. "However at the same time we must do all that is within our power to ensure that Mr. Floyd does not destroy another family the way that he has destroyed ours."
She described her son as a young man with a passion for life, who was a talented musician and chef, and planned to become an electrical engineer.
Blake's sister and girlfriend also made emotional statements about how their lives have been torn apart by the tragedy.
The defendant also read a statement to the judge, expressing remorse and offering an apology to the family.
"I am so very deeply sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart to his family, his friends and his community," Floyd said. "I would cut off my hand to reverse all this."
He said his actions have also hurt his nearly 2-year-old son, wife and other relatives.
"Whatever emotional strain that me and my family are going through can't compare to what the Gaston family will continue to feel the rest of their lives," he said. "I vow to never do this again and stay sober."
Floyd's aunt made a statement in support of her nephew.
In addition to the nearly three-year prison term, the judge added 364 days in jail, to be suspended as long as Floyd does not violate terms of his plea agreement and post-prison supervision.
After the sentencing hearing, Mary Gaston said she is not ready to forgive the man who took her son's life. But she does not want to see Floyd or his family spiral downward.
"I wish that he becomes a wonderful father, a wonderful grandson, a wonderful son, that's all we want for him," she said. "It will not do our family any good if his family ends up as destroyed as our family is. We don't want that."