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Steve Lacey

The drunk driver who killed popular Google engineer Steve Lacey in a horrific accident on I-405 last July was sentenced Friday to four years in prison. Patrick Rexroat, 56, received the maximum sentence under the law.

But reports that the sentence comes as Gov. Chris Gregoire prepares to double the penalty for vehicular homicide in Washington state. The death of Lacey played a role in the legislature agreeing to increase the penalty to eight years, and Gregoire is expected to sign the legislation into law.

“I would gladly take the man’s place if possible and I’m very ashamed and very sorry,” Rexroat told the court, according to a KING 5 report. Friends of Lacey and his wife, Nabila, also spoke during the sentencing.

“Mr. Rexroat you are a killer. Your sentence should reflect that,” said Neal Karlinsky, a friend of Lacey’s. Added Nabila Lacey: “Steve was not meant to die alone and in a car, without us to hold his hand and console him. He deserved love, remorse and compassion.”

Rexroat’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash. Just prior to the crash, Rexroat had been involved in a road rage incident involving another driver.

Lacey, who received his master’s in software engineering in his native U.K., moved to Redmond in 1997 from London, two years after the 3D graphics startup where he worked was acquired by Microsoft. He later started his own company, SwitchGear Software, before going on to work at Google. He was 43 at the time of his death, and is survived by his wife and two kids, ages five and seven.

[ and KING 5 are GeekWire media partners]

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