SENECA, S.C. (WSPA) — A man has been sentenced to spend more than a decade behind bars for a deadly 2019 high-speed chase that ended when he crashed his car and landed on top of a woman who was sleeping in her basement.
El Asia Hassian Muhammad, 21, appeared before a judge in Oconee County on Monday for an emotional sentencing for a crime that killed Vanessa Leanne Neimeyer, 39.
“This case was certainly a tragedy to multiple people,” Judge R. Scott Sprouse said.
According to troopers, Muhammad, who was 19 at the time, led troopers on a high-speed chase after fleeing a license checkpoint.
“He slowed down for the first trooper standing in the road, but he said he didn’t stop,” a trooper said. “Then, as soon as he approached him, he took off.”
Inside the the courtroom on Monday, troopers recalled reaching speeds of up to 120 mph while chasing Muhammad. They said he later crashed into the basement of the home in Seneca, landing on top of Neimeyer, who died at the scene.
“I know you didn’t intend to kill someone, but you made a series of bad choices,” Sprouse said.
Muhammad pleaded guilty on Monday and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.
“In balancing everything, the sentencing of the court is being you confined to the Department of Corrections for the term 12 years,” Sprouse said. “The sentence will commence as of July 2, 2019, with mental health counselling, mental health evaluation.”
Muhammad apologized to the Neimeyer family multiple times, expressing his regrets.
“I will take this with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “Once again, I want to apologize to the family.”
The victim’s family said that while they will never be able to fill the void of Vanessa’s death, they think Muhammad should be forgiven.
“I wish that he had gotten less, but I think the judge was trying to be very fair,” Shirley Neimeyer, Vanessa’s mother, said. “He was really young, and I do wish for him to have a good life and his family to have peace.”
Now, Vanessa lives on through stories and photographs.
“She just had a lot of great wit and teasing and make everybody smile,” Shirley Neimeyer said. “She just was funny and she treated everybody fairly.”
Almost three years later, it’s something Vanessa’s mother told 7NEWS has helped her find closure.
“I believe I will be seeing her again. That gives me a lot of peace,” Neimeyer said.