Louisville man sentenced to 30 years for killing woman during po - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville man sentenced to 30 years for killing woman during police chase

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Joe Johnson in court during his sentencing hearing Sept. 10, 2015. Joe Johnson in court during his sentencing hearing Sept. 10, 2015.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A drug suspect who killed a woman while running from police has been sentenced to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

What began almost three years ago with a police chase, finally ended in a courtroom with an apology.

“I'm deeply sorry,” said Joe Johnson.

Sorry for what he did in October of 2012. Johnson was running from police following a drug deal, when his truck blindsided Stephanie Melson's car. The 31-year-old mother of three was killed.

After numerous delays in the case, Judge Brian Edwards agreed to a plea deal Thursday, sentencing Johnson to 30 years in prison for second degree manslaughter, drug trafficking, fleeing and evading police, weapons, and other charges.

Johnson had a message for Melson's family.

“I am sorely grieved that this tragedy happened. And I would like to apologize to the family, and to ask them for forgiveness, because I truly didn't intend for anything like this to happen,” said Johnson.

Johnson was originally charged with murder, but prosecutor Kristi Gray says the family agreed to the deal.

“Everyone wanted this case, especially the victim's family, to come to an end. She's got children who needed closure,” said Gray.

There was closure for Johnson's family as well. His son, Terrance Neal, is a minister in St. Louis.

“Sadness on my family's behalf, and for Stephanie Melson's family as well, the children. It's a tragedy all the way around, and I'm deeply. I'm deeply sorry,” said Rev. Neal

Melson's family left without saying whether they accept Johnson's apology or his request for forgiveness.

“Nothing's going to bring Stephanie back to them. Nothing is going to make this right. It's kind of hard to say that there's ever going to be justice when they've suffered such a loss for such a senseless reason,” said Gray.

This case led LMPD to change its policy. Officers will now only chase suspects who have committed violent crimes.

More: Louisville man asks victim's family to forgive him during sentencing hearing

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