Victims’ families upset to hear sentence hearing delayed for man who ran over two kids

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A judge delayed sentencing Friday for a man who ran over and killed a young boy and injured a girl in Escambia County, Florida.

Robert Etheridge walked into the courtroom with shackles on his hands and feet. The victims’ families expected it to be the last time they would see him.

“It’s hard,” Michelle West said. “It’s hard to keep being strong over and over. I don’t want to have to keep seeing this man. It’s not fair. My son didn’t deserve this.”

Michelle wears her son’s cross and picture around her neck. Rylee Simmons was just 13 years old. Etheridge ran him over and left the scene on West Quintette Road in April 2020.  

“It’s a life sentence,” Michelle said. “We’re serving a life sentence you know. It’s not anything that ever goes away.”

Hailey Locke was with her friend Rylee that night. She was injured and had a long recovery. She was in court Friday upset by the delay in sentencing.

“I’ll grant the motion to withdraw,” Judge Jennie Kinsey said.

Etheridge said he wanted a new attorney and needed the time to find one.

“It’s just frustrating for everyone,” Michelle said.

The victims’ families were ready to read their statements to the judge and try to move on.

“I was up all night,” she said. “I didn’t sleep. I was trying to finish up my letter because I didn’t want to keep breaking down then getting my daughter here and everybody prepared to handle this emotional day just to be let down.”

They will be back in court September 3rd for an attorney status call. They should decide then when the sentencing will take place.

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