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    Driver gets 4 years in DUI manslaughter

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001

    LARGO -- A drunken driver was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday for killing a Clearwater man almost five years ago.

    Timothy J. Rizzuti, a 40-year-old construction worker who lives in Safety Harbor, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of DUI manslaughter. In July 1996, he struck and killed Russell Simonson as Simonson was pushing himself in a wheelchair near the pavement along Whitney Road. Rizzuti will receive credit for the 15 months he has been jailed awaiting trial. The earliest he will be eligible for release is about July 2003, said his attorney, Walter "J.R." Grantham. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Mark Shames also sentenced Rizzuti to five years of probation. He must pay more than $1,600 in fines and court costs and the judge permanently revoked his driver's license. After the accident, Rizzuti went to New York. He didn't return to face the charge until January 1998. Then legal motions and scheduling problems further delayed the case.

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