Larry Lawton, 64, of Nebraska City was sentenced to 18 months probation for a Nov. 6 traffic accident that resulted in the pedestrian fatality of William Elmer Perkins, commonly known as Walkin' Willie.
Lawton told Judge Randall Rehmeier that his sleep has been disturbed ever since the accident.
"I do value life very highly and I've tried to figure out in my mind why it happened," Lawton said. "I regret everything that happened," he said.
His attorney, Chris Lathrop of Papillion, said Lawton was making a left turn when the 79-year-old Perkins entered the shadowed area of the crosswalk near Central Avenue and 11th Street and walked into the side of Lawton's Chevrolet Blazer.
One witness told police that Perkins appeared to fall into the Blazer as it passed.
A mirror on the Blazer was broken and Perkins died from complications of his injuries in a Lincoln hospital on Nov. 27.
Police reports indicate that sunglare for westbound traffic and the shadow across the crosswalk were factors in the accident. Lawton turned left as a vehicle in the opposing lane turned right.
Lathrop said both Lawton and his wife, who was in the passenger seat, were watching, but did not see Perkins.
He said the circumstances of Perkin's death have troubled Lawton.
"I don't think there is anyone, that I've represented in my 20 years of practice, more humble and more fully regretful for what has taken place," he said.
He said Lawton's wife has not been able to drive a vehicle since the incident out of fear that something similar might happen.
He said Lawton, who has not had another traffic citation since 1977, is also responsible for raising a four-year-old special needs child.
Judge Rehmeier noted Lawton's service during the Vietnam War, where he earned a Purple Heart.
"He has been a good, forthright citizen through his life," the judge said. "There were a number of factors that came together at one time that resulted in the unfortunate death of Mr. Perkins," he said.
He sentenced Lawton to 18 months probation and a $600 fine for careless driving and three degree assault.