SAN FERNANDO – A Burbank man who drove drunk the wrong way on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway in 2013 and caused a head-on collision that killed two people, including the pastor of a Lancaster church, was sentenced Friday to 23 years to life in prison.
Bradford Pate, 40, apologized to the victims’ families in court during an emotional sentencing hearing, saying he will “feel the sorrow” for the rest of his life.
Authorities said Pate drove his 2006 Toyota truck south on the northbound lanes of the freeway near Escondido Canyon Road south of Palmdale before dawn June 22, 2013, striking a 2006 Chrysler being driven by the Rev. Manard Giles.
Giles, the 77-year-old pastor of The Answer Community Church of God in Christ in Lancaster, was killed in the crash. A passenger in Giles’ car, Mattie Lee Ferguson, 60, of Lancaster, died later. A second passenger was trapped in the minister’s vehicle until rescuers freed him.
Pate pleaded no contest in July to two counts of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI. He tried unsuccessfully in August to withdraw from the plea deal, with Judge Lloyd Nash rejecting arguments that Pate did not fully understand the terms of the deal.
In court Friday, relatives of the victims gave emotional statements, including Giles’ daughter, Esther Thomas Giles, who said her life is “a daily struggle to go on.”
“My daddy was a gentle man who thought the best of everyone,” she said. “I imagine if I could see my heart, a piece of it would be missing.”
Pate stared straight ahead during most of the hearing, not making eye contact with any of the speakers. But he later apologized and asked for forgiveness.
“There won’t be a day that I’m alive that I don’t feel the sorrow,” Pate said.
Nash called it “one of the most tragic cases” he’s presided over in 27 years as a judge.
“It’s beyond my own comprehension,” he said.
Speaking to the victims’ relatives, Nash said no prison sentence would alleviate their loss.
“I could give him a million years — I could execute him right in front of you — and it wouldn’t assuage your grief and suffering,” the judge said.
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