Social media's buzzing over celebrity motorcycle builder Billy Lane's release from prison.
The celebrity motorcycle builder, whose custom work earned the Melbourne-based designer several spots on reality television, has been formally freed from an Orlando work release program today as part of the of his sentence on a vehicular homicide charge, the Department of Corrections confirmed today.
Lane's criminal defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger told FLORIDA TODAY that today was the day that Lane was to be freed but that he had not heard from his client.
"He probably has been. I know he was excited about this all coming to an end," Eisenmenger said. Lane also used the time in the minimum security to help others, including youth who were brought to him to talk about his experience in the criminal justice system. Lane was sentenced in 2009 to state prison and was later assigned to the work release program.
"He had very well, interacting with other inmates and volunteering, rebuilding equipment and using his mechanical skills. I'm sure he's wanting to get back to motorcycles, that's his love."
Lane, 44, was best known for his on "Monster Garage" and "Biker Build-Off," both reality-based shows. Lane, who previously owned Choppers Inc. in Melbourne, developed a strong cult following among motorcycle aficionados. His career came to a halt in September 2006, when Lane crashed his head-on into 56-year-old Sebastian Inlet State Park ranger Gerald Morelock's small Yamaha motorcycle on a darkened road.
Morelock was killed. Lane, traveling with a passenger at the time, was speeding past slow traffic in a no-pass zone on State Road A1A south of Melbourne Beach when the accident happened, police said.
Lane, who owned a shop in Melbourne, pleaded no contest in June 2009 to one count of vehicular homicide. Prosecutors agreed to drop a DUI manslaughter charge as part of a plea deal.
A Facebook group named "Free Billy Lane" boasts more than 3,200 , many of them showing support for his release. Those posting on the fan site were enthusiastic about Lane's release.
"Well it has been a long time coming. Tomorrow is finally the day. Seems like I just started this page yesterday but in fact it was 08/14/2009 on the day Billy went in. It has at times been a bit to keep up with every day with over 3000 of you and a million spammers," said poster Shawn Darby earlier today. "But now Billy will turn the page to the next . Lets all give him some Family (sic) time and keep his recovery in our prayers. Thanks to all of you for taking this ride with me, I know many of you made him aware of our campaign to support him. Lets see what he has up his sleeve next. Much Love & Respect to you all."
Wade Wamsley, another Facebook poster wrote on the fan site's wall, "Today's the day billy gets out."
"Today is going to be a GREAT day!!! Welcome home Billy :)" said Jennifer Santolucito, another fan.
FLORIDA TODAY's Rick Neale contributed to this report.