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Ex-con sentenced for hit-run that killed man getting umbrella from car

SAN DIEGO -- An ex-con who fled after his speeding vehicle crossed a double-yellow line and fatally struck a man retrieving an umbrella from his parked car in Paradise Hills was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in state prison.

James Arthur Robbins, 47, pleaded guilty last month to hit-and-run in the Jan. 19 death of 49-year-old Jose Padron, the father of a 9-year-old boy.

No one apparently witnessed the crash, but Robbins' girlfriend came home to her nearby residence and noticed damage to her car after letting the defendant use it, the prosecutor said.

The girlfriend called police, but Robbins took off and was on the run for about a month before being arrested.

"I find you a coward, and you will always be a coward," Padron's sister, Judith Tang, told the defendant. Tang criticized Robbins for fleeing the scene, leaving it up to a family member to find Padron's lifeless body in the street.

Another of the victim's sisters, Maria Padron, said her brother's son misses his father so much that he cries himself to sleep every night.

"It's not fair," the sister said to the defendant. "You murdered my brother. You're a heartless, cold-blooded killer."

The victim's widow, Sacramento Padron, said she hasn't been able to tell their son what really happened to his father. She said it is difficult to be suddenly left alone with a boy to raise.

"Why didn't you ask for help?" she asked the defendant. "The why ... I need to know that."

Deputy District Attorney David McNees said Robbins has a criminal record dating back to 1982, including two robbery convictions.

Based on text messages retrieved by authorities, Robbins may have been on cocaine when he hit Padron, but that allegation was impossible to prove since the defendant fled the scene after hitting the victim, McNees said.

Superior Court Judge Polly Shamoon sentenced Robbins to the maximum term under a plea deal.

"You saw a human being on the hood of your car (and) your first instinct was to leave," the judge said.