A man facing up to 10 years in prison for a fatal hit-and-run in Baton Rouge — who police say tried to get his SUV repaired at a body shop before being located by authorities — was sentenced to probation Monday, infuriating the victim’s family.
Along with probation, State District Judge Trudy White gave Christian Cvitanovich, 38, a two-year suspended prison sentence and 375 hours of community service. The sentence enraged the father of Mikel “Misha” Carson, the 20-year-old woman killed on Interstate 10 near College Drive on Jan. 31, 2010.
“How do I feel? He murdered my daughter, and he’s getting community service and a ($500) fine,” Curtis Carson said outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse. “How do you explain that?”
Earlier inside the courtroom, Carson described his daughter as a “fiercely wonderful mother” who was full of life and said her untimely death was a “life-changing event for our family.”
“She was extremely bright and had a lot in front of her,” the grieving father said.
Carson told the judge that Cvitanovich needed to pay for killing his daughter, leaving her on the side of the road and going on his “merry way.”
“That can never be forgiven,” he said.
Shortly before the accident, Misha Carson, who was living in Hammond at the time, had stopped to check on a motorist involved in a separate accident on the interstate near College.
Immediately after the impact, Cvitanovich allegedly pulled to the outside shoulder for a moment before exiting the interstate at College, according to an arrest warrant. He stopped his sport utility vehicle at an unknown location and changed a tire, removed a headlight and part of the front bumper.
Cvitanovich then took the SUV to a Metairie body shop on Feb. 1, 2010, and requested it be repaired without notifying the insurance company, the warrant says. He told workers at the shop he had hit a deer but called back the next day and said he was involved in a hit-and-run and told the shop’s owner to be expecting a visit from police.
Carson called Cvitanovich’s initial claim that he had hit a deer insulting and said he doubts that stretch of I-10 near College Drive has a deer problem.
“He is the lowest form of human life to just leave my daughter there,” Carson said.
In a videotaped statement played in court shortly before White sentenced Cvitanovich, Mikel Carson’s mother, Michele Carson, who lives in South America, sat next to pictures of her daughter and granddaughter and said she lost a part of herself when her daughter was taken from her.
“I have only photos now,” she said in a somber voice. “I want to hug on you. I want to look into your eyes and tell you I love you. I miss you.”
Mikel Carson’s daughter is nearly 7 years old.
Cvitanovich’s attorney, Lance Unglesby, apologized to the Carson family on behalf of his client.
“Christian has had an enormous amount of remorse,” Unglesby said in court.
Cvitanovich pleaded no contest in September to a felony hit-and-run driving charge in the case. He faced up to 10 years in prison.
A no contest plea carries the same weight as a guilty plea in criminal court but cannot be used as an admission of guilt in any civil proceeding. Curtis Carson’s lawsuit against Cvitanovich in Baton Rouge state court is pending.