Prison Sentence Deemed Excessive In Drunk Driving Crash That Killed Woman

A man who killed a woman and seriously injured her five-year old twins was sentenced to ten years in prison in Kent County Circuit Court in Grand Rapids. This sentence was outside the sentencing guidelines which called for approximately three and a half to seven years in prison for the offense. This sentence was appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals and in a 2-1 decision they said that the Circuit Court judge abused his discretion in handing down the ten-year sentence. The case now will go back to Circuit Court so the man can be re-sentenced by another judge to either conform to the guidelines or find a legal reason to go above the guidelines.

Original Case Details

The man was driving home back in September of 2017 from a golf outing when the crash happened in Courtland Township, MI. The man was allegedly going 90+ miles an hour where he blew a stop sign and hit another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, a 33-year-old woman, was killed and her five-year-old twin boys were critically injured and trapped inside the car. The man then ran from the scene and hid from the police for a period of eight hours before he was apprehended. Both boys suffered severe head injuries. One of the boys now cannot talk or eat by himself and now requires a wheelchair and constant supervision and nursing care. The accident detached his retinas and he is now unable to see. The man pled no contest to OWI causing death, failure to stop at the scene of an accident, and OWI causing serious injury.

At the man’s sentencing, letters of support were read in an effort to show the judge that this was an isolated accident, and that he is a family man. The presiding judge took offense to the claim that this was an accident. The judge noted that this incident occurred because of his choice to drive after drinking, and therefore, this incident was more purposeful that his defense would admit. The judge also stated that it was not an accident that he put the keys in the ignition, it was not an accident that he drove 90 miles an hour. Due to these opinions, the judge sentenced the man to ten years in prison.

Court Of Appeals Review

The Michigan Court of Appeals stated that the Circuit Court judge did not provide the necessary specific reasons to justify a departure from the sentencing guidelines. The Court of Appeals did not agree with the Circuit Court judge that the defendant intended the results of the terrible accident. The Appeals panel stated that in every drunk driving offense, the offender chooses to drink and then drive. The intent of the man in this case was no different than any other defendant in a drinking and driving case. While the outcome of the crash was obviously devastating, the Court of Appeals ruled that the outcome of the crash had no bearing on the man’s intent in the outset. The Court stated that the death and serious injuries were already taken into account by the sentencing guidelines that were created by legislators in establishing the penalties for felony crimes. The Court also believe that the Circuit judge who sentenced the man had deep-rooted personal opinions about the man and did not believe that the man could get a reasonable re-sentence if that judge conducted another sentencing hearing. The man will now be resentenced by a different judge.

Any Further Questions?

If you have any additional questions relating to this case or anything else related to sentencing guidelines, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.

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