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A Wayne County judge had stern words Thursday for a Detroit woman whose speeding vehicle caused an accident that killed an Upper Peninsula man on the grounds of the old Tiger Stadium.

“What happened that day should never have taken place and it’s directly because of your irresponsibility,” Wayne Circuit Judge Mark Slavens told Shayla Tucker. “Your recklessness and your recklessness alone has ruined two families. Paul Pesola did not deserve to die like this.”

The body of Paul Pesola Jr. of Pelkie was vaulted over an 8-foot fence at the site of the old stadium when Tucker’s car — traveling nearly 100 mph on Michigan just west of downtown — hit another vehicle, then struck Pesola. The 35-year-old’s body was found four hours after the two-vehicle accident, which happened at about 1 a.m. April 2.

A tearful Tucker apologized to Pesola’s family, which did not attend the hearing: “I’m just sorry that it happened. I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Slavens sentenced Tucker, 33, to 21 months to 15 years in prison. She will get credit for 25 days served in the county jail.

Slavens told Tucker he has to “balance” what she did to herself and her son, but importantly what she did to Pesola’s family.

“I’ve got to take care of Mr. Pesola’s family,” Slavens said.

“This case just really bothers me a great deal cause it didn’t have to happen. I still don’t understand why you were driving 90 to 95 miles per hour down Michigan Avenue.”

The judge also said Tucker had alcohol in her system, which her lawyer disputed. Stephen Schwartz said after the hearing there was no alcohol or other substance in Tucker’s system that would have affected her driving.

Pesola’s brother sent a message to the court thanking the prosecutor’s office for its work.

The judge received about seven letters of support from Tucker’s family and employer. Schwartz sought a maximum punishment of a year in jail instead of a state prison.

“She’s completely remorseful. She’s completely contrite,” Schwartz said before Slavens handed out his sentence.

Tucker was convicted last month by a Wayne County jury for reckless driving causing death.

Her family refused to comment after Thursday’s sentencing.

Tucker also had a conviction in 2005 in connection with resisting arrest by a police officer and attempted assault.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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