Washington D.C. DUI attorneys have been following the developments of this highly-emotional case, in which three teens were killed when their friend crashed into a tree while driving drunk. A fourth teen in the vehicle was injured, but survived.
When the 20-year-old defendant was sentenced last month, he was given 20 years for the spring 2011 crash. However, Maryland law allows a sentencing review within 30 days of the sentence, without having to file an appeal. That request was approved, and the judges cut the defendant’s sentence from 20 years to 8 years for his conviction on the charge of vehicular manslaughter.
Because state law allows non-violent offenders to come up for parole after serving a fourth of their sentence, he could be eligible for release as early as next year, as his sentence is considered to have begun at the time of his arrest last spring. However, just because he’s eligible for parole doesn’t necessarily mean he will receive it.
According to testimony at the trial, the defendant and four of his friends left a party around 3 a.m. All had been drinking. The crash occurred in Montgomery County when he crashed into a tree. It had been raining that night, and the roads were slick. The defendant had reportedly lost control of the car.
The driver reportedly crawled out of the car, shouted “everybody run!” and fled into the woods. His friends lay dead or dying. As his sister would later tell the court, this was an obvious sign that he was not aware of his actions that night. Police later found him several miles away a few hours later. His drug-alcohol content was reportedly at that time still twice the legal limit for driving.
The three-judge review panel heard testimony from the defendant’s friends and family, who pleaded for mercy on the basis that the stiff sentence had more to do with revenge than justice.
The defendant, in a letter to the court, said he completely understood the anger, but stressed that he never intended to hurt his friends. He said throwing his life away won’t bring back his friends.
Some 200 people showed up on behalf of the victims, saying that a reduction of the sentence would have been a blatant miscarriage of justice.
While there was nothing illegal about the 20-year sentence – it was within the legal boundaries – it was undeniably stiff for the charges of which he’d been accused.
Still, D.C. DUI attorneys know that in a case like this, there are no winners. Even though terrible mistakes appear to have been made that night, the grief of losing a loved one is unlikely to be assuaged by a decades-long sentence of a young man who used poor judgment, but had no malice.
Because the testimony of victim’s relatives can be a powerful force in the courtroom, you need an experienced D.C. DUI attorney at your side, looking to make sure verdicts and sentences aren’t handed down solely in the name of revenge.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-596-5716.