Jeffrey Hubbard of Atlanta will serve four years in prison for crashing into and killing 11-year-old Kile Glover in a summer 2012 wreck on Lake Lanier.
Hubbard was found guilty last month of homicide by vessel, serious injury by vessel and misdemeanor boating charges including reckless operation of a vessel, unlawful operation of a personal watercraft and boat traffic violation for operating at more than idle speed within 100 feet of a person in the water.
He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of three years and a 23-year maximum sentence.
The July 6, 2012, wreck also injured Jordan Shepp, then 15. The two children were riding on a raft being pulled by a pontoon boat when Hubbard’s personal watercraft collided with them. Glover was the son of Ryan Glover, president of Bounce TV, and Tameka Foster; he was stepson to entertainer Usher.
“He never came to me, Kile’s mother. Kile’s mother. Not his father, not his stepmother, not the Glover family — I’m not a Glover — he never came to me, Kile’s mother, and said I’m sorry,” Foster said, in an emotional statement. “I’m not saying the court should throw him in jail and throw away the key or lock him up forever. I don’t know. But I think everything we do in life there has to be some consequence for your actions.
“You can’t just go ... and live your life as if you haven’t ruined someone else’s,” she said. “Kile was very, very talented, and his legacy I will fight to keep alive. But I don’t have my son.”
Judge Bonnie C. Oliver, who said it seemed as though miscommunication may have contributed to an apology never being clearly delivered, offered her reasoning before delivering her sentence.
“I would ban Jet Skis altogether,” she began. “They’re unsafe and unpredictable.”
People on Jet Skis tend to “act out of character,” caught up in a deluded exuberance, she said.
“People forget they don’t have a brake or ability to steer unless accelerating,” Oliver said.
She expressed her condolences to the Glover family for its loss.
“It’s never a good thing to outlive any of your children,” she said. “And Mr. Glover’s testimony was the saddest, most heart-wrenching I’ve ever heard.”
Her judgment was partially informed by the father’s graciousness and forgiveness, she said.
“There’s a lot of good people involved in this case, and a lot of people that are hurt,” Oliver said.
She said she was disappointed, however, that Hubbard didn’t accept responsibility in a more forthcoming manner.
His voice cracking and tears in his eyes, Hubbard pleaded for mercy and forgiveness, but only went so far as to say “I apologize for my involvement in the incident.”
It was a point also brought up by the prosecution, which asked for a 10-year prison sentence.
Oliver, however, said she disagreed with its argument that the lack of alcohol as a factor made Hubbard “morally more egregious than if he was really DUI and had no idea what he was doing,” as Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance said.
“Yes, I want this punishment to have a deterrent effect, but no, I don’t see this as bad as a DUI,” Oliver said. “I mean, that is recklessness to another level to operate any vessel under the influence of alcohol.”
“I don’t think this was as bad as that by any stretch,” she said, adding as she looked directly at Hubbard that “I don’t think you went into this with the realization that you had a deadly weapon under your control.”
Oliver specified in her sentence that Hubbard pay his debt to society at the Hall County Correctional Institute, a work camp with lower-level offenders.
“In this instance, I’ve been to the prisons and I’ve toured the prisons, and I don’t see anything good that would come from you being in the state prison system at the expense of the taxpayers,” she said.
Oliver said the case was ultimately about accountability.
“That’s what the Glovers wanted. That’s all they wanted,” she said.
Hubbard’s attorney Jeffery Talley said he was upset with the verdict, but thanked Oliver for her listening and attentiveness to detail in the case.
Hubbard’s father, Simon Hubbard, said it appeared Oliver “put a lot of thought” in the sentence and that he continued to grieve and empathize with the Glover family.
“I really wish Jeff would walk out and come home today,” he said. “We hope and pray Jeff can weather the storm.”