Man gets prison for killing bicyclist, aspiring rapper ‘Deaf Joe’

The man convicted of a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist pedaling to work was sentenced to 15 years Thursday morning in Cobb County Superior Court.

Damon Thomas Latuch was ordered to serve five years in custody and must pay $9,000 in restitution to the victim’s family, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide.

On April 10, 2013, Joseph Gathambiri, 25, of Marietta, was riding a bicycle on South Marietta Parkway heading to work at a fast food restaurant just before daybreak when he was struck and killed by a black 1994 Toyota truck, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

Evidence left at the scene and a tip led police to Latuch’s home, and he was arrested later the same day. He was released on bond on May 20, 2013.

Gathambiri was struck and killed shortly before 5 a.m. in front of the Cobb Community Transit bus terminal as he rode his bike to a nearby Burger King where he worked. The popular cook was known as “deaf Joe,” his co-workers told The AJC after his death. He was an aspiring rapper who rapped in sign language.

Co-worker Linda Moore said she saw the accident investigation on her way to work, and thought, “I hope it ain’t nobody that works at Burger King.”

“He’s usually here before we get here, and when we got here, he wasn’t here,” Moore said. “I went down the street and it happened to be deaf Joe.”

In the hours before the crash, Latuch had been drinking at a bar and was told twice he was too drunk to drive, according to the DA’s office. He later told co-workers he had hit a deer.

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