By Josh Siatkowski | Staff Writer, Kaity Kempf | LTVN Managing Editor
Tammy Renee Blankenship was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday evening for the 2016 hit-and-run death of Baylor student David Grotberg.
Blankenship was convicted Wednesday evening of both of the charges she faced: manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid. The jury had the option to recommend prison time ranging from two years to 20 years for each crime, as well as the opportunity to recommend probation.
The jury ultimately sentenced Blankenship to 10 years for each offense, and the sentences will be served concurrently. Blankenship will be eligible for parole once she has served five years of the sentences.
Grotberg was a Fergus Falls, Minn., sophomore studying philosophy at Baylor. He was bike-riding with his then-girlfriend on the 3200 block of Franklin Avenue around 10 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2016, when he was struck and killed by a vehicle that didn’t stop.
Blankenship was suspected two years after the crime, when Waco PD received an anonymous letter pointing to her involvement. She was arrested in 2020, and her trial began on Jan. 31.
For the first time in the trial, Grotberg’s family testified at the sentencing hearing Friday morning. His parents and two of his five siblings testified, explaining to the jury how special of a young man Grotberg was.
His mother, Diane Grotberg, said he was incredibly smart and outgoing. She said she began homeschooling him in first grade when she saw how capable and inquisitive he was. By the time he finished ninth grade, he had already passed the AP Calculus BC exam — a college-level calculus test.
His father, Clark Grotberg, said David spent his summers, beginning at age 15, volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala. The orphanage required interns to be 18, but Clark Grotberg said the director was happy to make an exception for someone with David’s compassion.
Clark Grotberg ended his testimony by saying that his son died in a way reflective of his character. By intentionally riding behind his then-girlfriend, Kaitlyn Morris, he likely saved her life in his final moment.
Despite the family’s cherished memories of Grotberg, they said they are not any less hurt by his death today than they were in 2016.
“It’s always noticed that David is not here,” Diane Grotberg said in her testimony.
Although the pain is still there, the Grotberg family said they forgave Blankenship.
“David would be the first person to wrap his arms around you and bring you to Jesus,” Clark Grotberg said to Blankenship in his victim impact statement.