What sort of sentences do hit/run killers of cyclists get? It really depends on whether or not you can show the killer was a “bad guy” –
Joseph Knott hit and killed Logan Snedeker. Knott admitted his guilt to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count each of failure to stop and drunk driving.
The judge sent him away for 9 years.
Amber Fernandez smashed into Jeff Stevenson and left him to die in the rain on the side of the road. She plead guilty to felony hit/run… She could have gotten three years… but the judge felt 30 DAYS was just the right sentence…
Her attorney used a “polygraph” test to “show” that she didn’t know she hit a cyclist [not a “bad guy”]… She had a valid license and, of course, since she CHOSE to hit and run there is no way to test whether she was impaired… By pleading the case instead to going to trial, and maybe having to take the stand, she was never cross-examined – her story was never tested… So Jeff Stevenson’s killer did 30 days… during Bike Month no less…
In Cincinnati, Anthony Gerike killed two CCC members – Terry Walker & Amy Goehring – he had coke, pot and more in his system…and no license… and killed the wife of a bar association president… Big case – bad guy – sending him away seemed to be a no brainer, but we took no chances – we organized folks, stayed on top of the case, sent letters to the court and prosecutor and showed up en masse at the sentencing hearing.
A visiting judge heard the case – the jury found Gerike guilty – at the sentencing many of us testified. The judge then announced his decision from the bench. Citing comments from many of the letters he received from friends, family and the cycling community he sentenced Gerike to 16 years – back to back 8 year sentences, one for each death.
In Pike County Sarah Bender killed Dr. Crowley, who was riding north from TOSRV on US 23 [instead of taking SR 104]. She had children in the car. She told officers that she never saw Dr. Crowley. That she struck Dr. Crowley and drove off was shocking, to say the least. Part of the crash report indicated that Bender told her daughter “I think I hit something” and the daughter said, “I think you hit someBODY.”
From the car it was blatantly obvious that the impact was huge.
However, Bender wasn’t found to be drunk or high or driving on a suspended license and did not otherwise present as a “bad” person. The trial was a bit of a circus. Dr. Crowley’s widow approached me about the case. She said that it was like My Cousin Vinny, in reverse. She felt the entire town was in out in favor of the defendant, Ms. Bender, and her husband’s death was minimized through the trial..
Sarah Bender was found guilty of misdemeanor hit and run… and got a 60 DAY sentence…
“This is just a slap on the wrist for what she did,” said widow Mary Crowley. “It is not much for what she has done. For killing my husband, it’s really not much at all.”
According to the news story “Mrs. Crowley said afterward, though, that she didn’t think Bender was genuinely sorry, but was sorry only for having to go to jail.”
Fred Carey Killed By Todd Shaw
On February 21, 2014 Fred Carey was riding on Round Bottom Road, just a few miles from me. I’ve ridden on Round Bottom many times – it is a very popular road coming out of Newtown, Ohio.
“Shaw was driving down Round Bottom after a heavy day of drinking that started around 10 a.m., according to witnesses. Earlier in the day, he had been at two bars, according to court records. There is video showing he had seven drinks – four beers and three shots – in 3.5 hours. As he left the bar, he purchased a six-pack and opened a beer as he got into his vehicle.
Shaw smashed into Fred Carey, and kept on going. Police caught up with him and he was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide. Shaw was driving about 45 mph and was using his phone at the time of the accident. It was his eighth DUI arrest since the 1980s, authorities have said. Shaw has six prior OVI convictions, plus two prior drug convictions and one prior conviction for leaving the scene.
Clearly a BAD guy.
Judge McBride clearly saw that – and sentenced Shaw to 9.5 years in prison for killing Carey, a popular school teacher who was 4 months into a new marriage.
Hit/run continues to be an epidemic throughout the U.S. In Florida, there were 84,000 hit/run crashes in 2014 with almost 200 people killed!
Currently pending before the Ohio legislature is a bill to increase the penalties for hit/run driving. HB110 was passed unanimously in 2015. The bill has been stranded in the Senate now. “The legislation is titled “Brandon’s Law,” in memory of a Guernsey County teen who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2013. The driver in the case later admitted consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana, Hill said. But because he was not caught the night of the accident, his intoxication levels could not be obtained, and he received a lessor sentence than would otherwise have been allowed.”
The bill came up before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee at the end of January. The Committee voted 9-1 with Michael Skindell being the sole dissenter. We’ll see where it goes in the full Senate now.