Kyle and Nicolle Peltier knew that the man who crashed into a playground and gravely injured two of their children would spend less than two years in prison. That was the plea deal.
What they didn't know was that they would leave a Hennepin County District courtroom Thursday without an apology or acknowledgment.
When asked by District Judge William Koch if he had anything to say, Kabaar W. Powell Jr. looked straight ahead and said, "No, your honor."
Thursday's sentencing was the continuation of a summer nightmare for the family that began June 11 when Powell tried to elude State Patrol troopers chasing him by driving at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour through residential neighborhoods in north Minneapolis. The chase ended at the Jenny Lind Elementary School playground where Kyle Peltier and his seven children were enjoying the morning while mom was across town at school.
Powell pleaded guilty last month to two felony counts of fleeing police and causing bodily harm. He agreed to the longest possible sentence, 33 months and 1 day. The sentence requires him to serve 22 months in prison, with the remainder on supervised release.
He was not required to say anything at his sentencing hearing and he didn't.
The length of the sentence and the silence of the defendant left the children's parents stunned, sad and disappointed.
"I watched helplessly as my children were run over. It runs through my head daily," Kyle Peltier said, his voice breaking in court as he spoke before sentencing.
To Nicolle Peltier his silence was "insincere" and as unsatisfying as the sentence. The couple, standing with Peltier's father, Tim Brinkley, who spoke in court as well, appeared bewildered and hurt by the high-speed chase.
"We love the police. They do a great job," Kyle Peltier said as he looked at the floor and shook his head.
Brinkley said, "any decent person would pull over" when law enforcement demanded.
That's not what Powell, 27, whose license had been revoked for years, did when the state troopers noticed him speeding southbound on Interstate 94 near Dowling Avenue. He took off and blew through 22 stop signs before crashing through a fence at the playground.
"We have a rough life now," Kyle Peltier said in the courtroom.
Two-year-old Kayden Peltier was the most seriously injured. He didn't leave the hospital until Aug. 9 and has only recently begun walking again, aided by a harness his parents hold. His sister, Lillianna, 4, also suffered a traumatic brain injury. Three-year-old Konnor Peltier was hit and suffered less serious injuries.
In court, Nicolle Peltier said Kayden lost his spleen, has 12 scars on his head, had two ribs removed and placed in his neck to support his spinal cord. He takes high doses of antibiotics every day because "he doesn't have an immune system."
Both he and Lillianna are struggling to regain their language skills and suffer mood swings, the parents said. "Their ultimate goal in life is to learn how to play and be normal," Nicolle Peltier said.
Powell robbed the family of a summer spent at splashpads, parks, museums and plays and much more, Nicolle Peltier said. "Only God knows how long this will last."
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Cheri Townsend said Powell's actions left the Peltiers with "untold devastation" financially, physically and emotionally. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help the family. Court-ordered restitution will be determined later.
Under regular sentencing guidelines for his crimes, Powell would have received probation and no prison time unless a jury unanimously decided to give him a harsher penalty.
His lawyer Paula Brummel said Powell had done what he could: admit his crime, take responsibility, accept the consequences, try to make amends and ask for forgiveness. "This is what Kabaar has done and will continue to do," she said.
Donations for medical expenses can be made to Kyle Peltier for The Peltier Family, c/o St. Bridget's Parish Community, 3811 EmerSon Avenue North, MN, 55412.