BROWARD COUNTY, FLA. — For a man who lingered on death's doorstep for weeks, Broward Sheriff's Deputy Maury Hernandez was very much alive Friday, springing to his feet in a Broward courtroom and shouting, "Yes!"
Just feet away sat his would-be killer in shackles and handcuffs, motionless except for his Adam's apple bobbing up and down as he seemed to gulp.
Both men had heard the same words: "life in prison."
A judge sentenced David Maldonado, 25, to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the attempted first-degree murder of Hernandez. A Broward Circuit Court jury convicted Maldonado in October of shooting the deputy in the head Aug. 6, 2007, after Hernandez chased the motorcyclist in Pembroke Park.
Doctors have said it's a miracle Hernandez survived the bullet that shattered his skull. He spent three weeks in a coma and 82 days in a hospital. He still needs daily physical therapy.
He has a slightly paralyzed left arm, scars on his head, and he walks with a limp.
Maldonado said nothing at his sentencing hearing, offering no apology or explanation. Hernandez said he believes there's a simple reason.
"I don't think he is sorry," Hernandez, 29, said outside court. "He pulled the trigger twice. Sorry would be once, not twice. It's hard to say sorry when you pull it twice."
The Hernandez shooting marked the beginning of a tragic four-month stretch for the Broward Sheriff's Office; two more of its men were fatally wounded during that period. Sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Reyka was shot Aug. 10, 2007, outside a Pompano Beach Walgreens. In November 2007, detention Deputy Paul Rein was overpowered and shot by an inmate he was transporting to the county courthouse.
Rosa Hernandez, the wounded deputy's mot- her, told Circuit Judge Martin Bidwill that the shooting devastated her life and her family. She went from cheering on her son on the baseball diamond to sitting by his hospital bedside as he clung to life.
Hernandez was heading to work Aug. 6, 2007, in an unmarked car when he saw Maldonado run three red lights. He followed Maldonado to a motorcycle-repair shop and confronted him. Maldonado pushed the deputy, ran and fired a .35 mm Glock semi-automatic twice, prosecutors said.
Maldonado was arrested hours later. He denied having a gun, saying the deputy shot at him and that he ran because he had a revoked license. He said he didn't want to risk going to jail and missing his daughter's birth.
Maldonado's girlfriend brought their 15-month-old daughter Jasmine to court Friday. If Hernandez had been arrested for driving with a revoked license, he was looking at a potential jail sentence of mere months. Instead, he has never held Jasmine, and will never see her again outside prison walls.