Nathan Schneider had been accused of intentionally running over Justin Duft, 19, in a parking lot on December 26, 2017.
Justin died on January 3, 2018, after having been on life support.
Duft’s family, of Little Rock, said the justice system failed their loved one.
Justin’s sister, Jessica Duft, said she was in complete shock. She said victims of crimes don’t get the same rights as defendants.
“My concern is that this is creating a person who feels they got away with murder and if you can do this once, what makes you not want to do this again,” Duft said. “There is no sentence that will bring Justin back.”
Schneider claimed that Duft attacked him first and didn’t realize the teen was critically injured until the next day.
“You can’t hit a pothole and know that you didn’t hit something. There is no way you can run over a 200-pound human body, twice and know that you did not do that,” Duft said. “The fact that he not once reached out and said ‘I’m sorry for what happened,’ and the fact that he fleed the scene and left for a week and he never turned around to make sure he was okay.”
Schneider pleaded not guilty to both charges last year.
After going through several trials, the jury found Nathan Schneider not guilty of murder and guilty of fleeing the scene of an accident.
“I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it that was my first impression and the second thing that went through my mind I felt cheated by the legal system. I felt like the trial was rushed. The deadlock was left at 6 and 6. Six people found him guilty and six people found him not,” Duft said.
As the family moves forward, they are going to continue to honor Justin.
“We will always have a hole in our hearts,” Duft said.
His sister said the past two years have been filled with pain and emptiness.
“You lose someone that is such a big part of your life and you have to learn how to live life again,” Duft said. “I think about him every day.”
While Justin may be gone, his family is keeping his spirit alive.
“We miss him all the time At holidays we put his picture out and try to include it that way,” Duft said. “I had a baby shower and I lit a candle so that he can be here with us.”
Schneider was sentenced to six years in prison Friday (January, 18) in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Original Story (KARK):
Little Rock, Ark. – A Hit and Run suspect turns himself into police – a week after running over a man who is now on life support.
The suspect, 20-year-old, Nathan Schneider spoke exclusively to Reporter Chanley Painter moments before surrendering to police on a warrant for battery in the first degree.
Schneider was emotional as he recalled what happened between him and 19-year-old, Justin Duft, last Tuesday night.
“We were acquaintances; we hung out several times,” Schneider said addressing how he and Duft knew each other.
Schneider began his story saying that last Tuesday he was taking his friend to pick up a check at Five Guys restaurant in the Chenal Park West Plaza when Justin Duft approached him.
“Justin (Duft) comes out of the Vape Store and starts using a lot of derogatory terms, asking why I’m there…really aggressive…all in my face and I had to walk away,” Schneider said.
Schneider then made his way into his SUV where he says Duft starting jumping into his window, beating him and allegedly saying “I’ll kill you.”
In the dark, Schneider says he couldn’t tell if Duft was using a weapon like a knife to stab him during the attack, adding “he punched me two times in the face. I was covered in blood and then another two or three times in the head while I was trying to reverse, and then I finally got out of there.” Schneider says he could barely see because of the blood and hits in the head and was just thinking about getting away during the moment.
Surveillance video provided by Duft’s family shows what happened. According to the police report, Schneider’s SUV went in reverse and caught Duft’s leg, knocking him to the ground. The report goes on to say that Schneider put his SUV in drive, and ran over Duft.
“did you not feel anything under the car?”
“My head was so whacked from being hit so many times; I was hit pretty hard,” said Schneider.
Schneider contended he didn’t find out Duft was critically injured until the next day when he started receiving “death threats” in the form of text messages from “30-40 people.”
“I was scared – I was getting threats,” Schneider says.
Overall, Schneider wants people to know that what happened was not intentional. In his words, it was an “accident…I was running trying to get away. It was the second time Duft had assaulted me,” he said.
Schneider said that he does not think he should go to jail for defending his life and wishes the whole thing had never happened, saying: “I’m sorry.” and “I don’ think that’s what he deserved. I don’t think that should’ve happened to him.”