Judge gives plea deal to Paxton hit-and-run driver

An Alachua County circuit judge granted a plea deal on Friday to a Gainesville man who hit and killed an 18-year-old UF student with his car and fled the scene.

Alachua County Circuit Judge Phillip Pena sentenced Joshua Figueroa, 32, to six years in prison on a first-degree felony charge for failing to stop for a crash that involved a death. 

Figueroa hit Maggie Paxton, 18, of Jacksonville, when he was passing another vehicle and she was entering a designated crosswalk along West University Avenue on the evening of Dec. 9, 2020.

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The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) arrested Figueroa on July 1, 2021, following an intensive seven-month investigation. 

The sentence also included 15 years of felony probation when Figueroa is released from prison along no driver’s license for a decade and 120 hours of community service.

More than 100 people gathered on Dec. 9, 2021, at the intersection of Gale Lemerand Drive and University Avenue to remember Paxton where the incident occurred. 

Maggie Paxton
Maggie Paxton

Paxton’s death, followed by 19-year-old UF student Sophia Lambert’s death when she was hit by a vehicle along West University Avenue the next month, prompted changes along the busy roadway that borders UF. 

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) reduced the speed limit to 25 and added speed tables along University Avenue and GPD launched the Gator STEP program, where it issued 322 citations in one month along West University Avenue, dwarfing the previous months by more than 300.

The City of Gainesville also finished a study of West University Avenue and 13th Street to find improvements. The city commission voted last October to move forward and find funding for several design changes.

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