A Columbia man found guilty in the 2012 auto death of a Marriotts Ridge High School educator was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday, according to State's Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.

Richie Junior Burgess, 42, of the 12000 block of Little Patuxent Parkway, pleaded guilty to one count of negligent manslaughter on Feb. 1 after police concluded he had taken Xanax before his Ford Explorer collided with a Toyota Avalon being driven Mary Ann Levant in Februaruy of 2012.

Levant, who had to be extricated from the car, died on June 22, 2012 as a result of her injuries.

According to Kirwan, multiple victim impact letters praising Levant, a nearly 40-year veteran of the Howard County Public School System, were submitted to the court.

Burgess briefly addressed the court, apologizing to Levant’s family and offering his condolences, Kirwan said.

According to Howard County Police, Burgess was driving eastbound on Route 32 at the Route 29 interchange on Feb. 21, 2012 when he struck Levant's Avalon. 

Police said Levant sustained a "severe spinal injury," and was paralyzed from the waist down.

Kirwan said, in addition to his jail sentence, Burgess was placed on five years' supervised probation and was ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service upon release.