Nick Bollea: First night in jail

9:37 PM, May 9, 2008   |    comments
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Largo, Florida - His jail sentence started right away.

"Thank you, sir," Nick Bollea said quietly as he left Friday afternoon, headed from the courtroom to the booking room.

His first night in behind bars was underway.

Tampa Bay's 10 News obtained surveillance video of Bollea during the booking process, where the teenager stood silent in a rumpled blue dress shirt, as he posed for his mug shot. Shortly after, deputies frisked him and used a metal detector, as they prepped him for the night.

A long night, no doubt, as Bollea most likely reflected on his emotional day in court.

One by one, members of his family spoke, including his father, famed wrestler Hulk Hogan. In addition, emotional testimony came from John Graziano's family.

John's sister, Christin Carson, spoke tearfully of watching her brother in a critical, incapacitated state in the hospital

"This state of life is worse than death. If my brother would have died physically, at least we could have grieved and remembered him in our hearts. Instead, we wake each day to see a living, breathing open casket funeral to be replayed over and over like a nightmare."

John's mother and father also spoke to the judge, begging him for at least six months behind bars for Bollea.

The judge listened. He even upped the sentence to eight months.

Bollea, himself, offered an apology to the Graziano's, which they say is the first time he's ever offered condolences since the accident happened August 26, 2007.

"I'd like to apologize to the Graziano's and to my family for the accident.I know this has been extremely difficult for the Graziano's, and it has been extremely difficult for my family and I feel terrible about it," Nick Bollea said, as he addressed both families in the courtroom.

Bollea's father, Hulk Hogan, clad in a black doo-rag, walked slowly to the podium with a speech in hand. He pleaded for leniency on his son, as the 17-year-old faced an unknown sentence for pleading no contest for reckless driving in the crash that left his best friend critically injured.

"Nick is going to have to live with this experience for the rest of his life. I would ask that you give him the chance to prove to you and the rest of society that he can be a responsible member of society."

In addition to the eight months behind bars, the judge also added 500 hours of community service and took away the teen's driver's license for three years.

Bollea is scheduled to be in jail through Christmas and New Year's.

Earlier Coverage:

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Hulk Hogan's son, Nick Bollea, has received eight months in the Pinellas County Jail, five years probation and 500 hours of community service. The judge also suspended Bollea's driver's license for three years, and mandated that he attend DUI school and advanced defensive driving school. As Judge Philip Federico delivered the sentence, he said that this was not just an accident but a series of conscious choices that led to tragedy.

Authorities say Bollea was racing a friend in August in his father's sports car when he hit a curb and slammed into a palm tree. The impact critically hurt his friend, John Graziano, who was not wearing a seat belt and now requires a lifetime of care. Nick Bollea entered a no contest plea today.

Edward Graziano took the stand and offered an emotional statement on behalf of his son. He mentioned John's military honors, his time in the Marines, and wondered why - if Nick thought of John as a brother - then why did he drive so recklessly with him in the car. Nick never wanted to be at the hospital, according to Edward, that it showed on his face, and when he did visit the hospital he would skateboard down the hallways and would shoot dart guns at the hospital. He also spoke of how Nick is a repeat offender and mentioned his past violations, and said the court needs to put a stop to Nick's careless driving. He wants to see Nick get at least one year in jail, and that anything less will have no impact

John's sister, Christin Carson, was very emotional on when she took the stand. She spoke about how the state of life that John is in is worse than death, because it plays over and over like a nightmare. She said that Nick has never apologized for what he did and hopes he can understand one day what he has put the family through. Graziano's girlfriend also made an emotional statement on the stand, and his mother said in her statement that Nick saw speeding as a badge of honor, was bragging about getting sponsors soon, and that he described John's injuries as a bump on the head.

Dressed in black and wearing a black doo-rag, Hulk Hogan took the stand saying the victim was like part of his family, like another son or brother. According to Hulk Hogan, the victim wrote the Hogans when he was in Iraq, and he's noticed a change in his son over the past 8 months. Hogan reminded everyone that Bollea is a 17-year-old child, and he will have to live with this experience for the rest of his life, asking that Nick be judged fairly, saying he wanted no preferential treatment for Nick but wanted to make sure that he was not given a harsher punishment because he is the son of a celebrity. Linda Hogan made a short statement, saying that her son is not the same without his best friend, that he never meant to hurt him and would switch places with him if he could.

In his statement, Nick Bollea remained calm and said that he really missed his best friend. He apologized to the victim's family and said that John Graziano was like a big brother to him. Brooke Hogan cried on the stand and spoke of "both of her brothers, John and Nick."

For past stories on the Nick Bollea case, click here.

Tampa Bay's 10 News. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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