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Doctor gets 5 years for road rage assault

January 8, 2010 12:51:22 AM PST
A former emergency room doctor who deliberately braked in front of two bicyclists, causing them to crash and suffer serious injuries in the road rage incident, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.Christopher Thomas Thompson, 60, was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He was in tears as he apologized to the victims in court.

"I would like to apologize again, deeply and profoundly from the bottom of my heart," said Thompson.

"The physical and mental scars are my fault. I think Mr. Watson said I've not been remorseful or accepted responsibility, I do," he said, telling them that he has recurring nightmares about one of the cyclists crashing through the windshield of his car.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Millington said he was concerned about a lack of remorse. The defendant was apologetic during sentencing, but remarks he made soon after the crash indicated otherwise, the judge said.

Thompson, who worked at Beverly Hospital in Montebello, has been jailed since he was convicted in November of assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, reckless driving and mayhem.

Prosecutors say he had argued with the two cyclists before suddenly slamming on his brakes in front of them on Mandeville Canyon Road on July 4, 2008. One cyclist who went through the car window suffered broken teeth, cuts and had to have his nose reattached. The other cyclist suffered a separated shoulder after crashing to the pavement.

"The scars on my face remind me of the pain and trauma I went through because Dr. Thompson didn't like cyclists riding on his road," said Ron Peterson, one of the injured cyclists.

Thompson admitted he was upset at cyclists riding alongside each other on the narrow street, and said a few swore at him when he asked them to ride single file.

The judge received hundreds of letters and e-mails from cyclists all over the world asking him for a tough sentence.

Thompson's father defended his son in court Friday. He told the judge that his son had "done a great deal for the citizens of Los Angeles County" through his work.

"I'm a father, obviously I love my son, but I also believe him when we talk in terms of remorse and caring about people and not wishing to do harm," said C. Thomas Thompson.

"It's so sad for both sides. The victims have to relive their injury and their trauma, and it's a waste of the defendent's life that he made these choices, but we were very satisfied with justice and that the judge did the right thing," said Deputy District Attorney Mary Hanlon Stone.

Thompson's attorney told the court his client is suffering from heart problems and would die in state prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.