Archive for the ‘America’s Best Judge’ Category


Texas: One less DWI killer will be prowling the roads after Judge Sid Harle banished Donald Huff to prison for 45 years for killing Arlene Harding-Watts

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Donald Huff DWI 4th fatal San Antonio

Donald Huff…won’t be making any pipe bombs in prison or boozing and cruising…

From San Antonio Express News

2013-09-27 — A bomb-maker who claimed, without much success, to be a passenger on his own Harley Davidson motorcycle during a drunken wreck four years ago that killed his girlfriend was sentenced Thursday to 45 years in prison.

Jurors found Donald Huff, 54, guilty in June of felony murder. He asked state District Judge Sid Harle to determine his sentence.

Huff was originally charged with intoxication manslaughter, which would have carried a maximum 20-year punishment, for the August 2009 wreck. Prosecutors enhanced the charge by alleging that he caused the death of Arlene Kay Harding-Watts, 46, in the course of committing another felony: a third driving while intoxicated arrest.

Since that wreck, Huff has been arrested a fourth time on a DWI charge, prosecutor David Henderson said Thursday as he sought a life sentence. Huff was also on federal probation for manufacturing an explosive device, he noted.

The defendant had agreed to make a pipe bomb for a methamphetamines cook in exchange for more drugs, not realizing at the time that the explosive was intended to be used for a (foiled) retribution plot, attorneys said. He was given probation after cooperating with federal authorities.

During a brief statement to the judge, Huff said Harding-Watts, whom he had met several months earlier while purchasing cigarettes, was an excellent driver and he enjoyed letting her take control.

“I am filled with remorse that I allowed Arlene to drive the motorcycle and that I rode with her after we had been drinking alcohol, resulting in her death,” he said in an affidavit filed by attorneys Ronald Guyer and Justin Fischer.

But EMS technician Kevin Norman, who testified during Huff’s jury trial that he was the first emergency responder to arrive on scene, cast doubt on the defendant’s contention he was merely a passenger.

“We saw him trying to pick her up and put her on the motorcycle,” Norman said of Huff, who was later found to have a blood
alcohol level of 0.17. ….MORE

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New York: German Gutierrez dragged child under his Jeep for over 600 feet; sent to slammer for DUI mayhem

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German Gutierrez dui Nassau Co NY 090713

Long Beach Man Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Hitting Teenage Girl While Driving Drunk and Dragging Her 600 Feet

Victim suffered permanent scarring after being pinned beneath vehicle

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a Long Beach man has been sentenced to eight years in prison after he drove drunk, hit a 15-year-old girl crossing the street, and dragged her for 600 feet.

German Gutierrez, 50, pleaded guilty in May to the top charge of Assault in the First Degree – Depraved Indifference; as well as to the charges of Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated and Leaving the Scene of an Accident With Serious Physical Injury. He was sentenced by Judge Tammy Robbins.

“No amount of prison time will ever undo the physical and emotional damage that Mr. Gutierrez inflicted upon this innocent young girl, whose life is now changed forever,” DA Rice said. “Today’s sentence, however, ensures that he pays a serious price for his crimes as a drunk driver.”

DA Rice said that just before 9 p.m. on September 3, 2012, Gutierrez was driving his 2002 Jeep Liberty eastbound on East Beech Street in Long Beach without his headlights on when he drove through a stop sign at Edwards Boulevard and struck a 15-year-old girl walking her bicycle southbound across the street. Rather than stopping to help, Gutierrez kept driving, pinning the victim beneath her bike and dragging her under his vehicle for more than 600 feet.

After the victim fell away from the vehicle, Gutierrez continued driving, striking a parked vehicle and driving on the sidewalk before coming to a stop in the street and falling out of his vehicle.

The victim suffered such serious road rash injuries to the left side of her body that her knee and elbow joints were exposed. Extensive skin grafts have resulted in permanent scarring.

Gutierrez told officers at the scene that he had consumed “like, a thousand drinks” and hadn’t technically killed anyone. He registered a blood-alcohol content reading of .30 percent, more than three times the legal limit, five hours after the incident.

Assistant District Attorney Katie Zizza of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. Gutierrez is represented by Kimberly Lerner, Esq.

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Pennsylvania: George Nichols Sr. sentenced to 30 years in slammer for killing Kelly Nagle and Michael Thavenius in New Years Eve crash; offers cheers salute to victim’s family in court

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George Nichols Sr DUI fatal double New Years Eve 2011 082113

George Nichols Sr.

From Reading Eagle

LANCASTER — 2013-08-21 —A habitual drunken driver will spend up to 30 years in prison for causing a highway crash on New Year’s Eve in 2011 that killed two people and critically injured a third.

At his sentencing hearing Tuesday, George Nichols Sr. deflected blame, saying the victim’s vehicle was “unsafe” and shouldn’t have been on the road that night.

At one point, he poured a cup of water for himself and then raised the cup in a “cheers” gesture toward a relative in the gallery.

“Mr. Nichols still doesn’t get it,” Assistant District Attorney Christine Wilson said in court. “The defendant knew from his prior DUIs; he had been warned. Now, the dreadful result has occurred: Two people are dead and a third person committed suicide, essentially as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.”

Killed in the East Cocalico Township crash on Route 272 were Kelly Nagle, a 35-year-old mother of two, and Michael Thavenius, 31.

Nichols, 55, and his passenger, Debra Fort, were seriously injured. Fort, who had obvious physical injuries when she appeared at a hearing last year, died on Nov. 28.

Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely ordered an 11-to-30-year prison term on charges of vehicular homicide while DUI and aggravated assault while DUI.

It is believed to be the longest sentence in recent memory for a DUI crash here.

Nichols’ blood-alcohol level (0.18 percent) and his history of DUI and drug offenses warranted a sentence beyond the mandatory seven-year term applicable in the case, Knisely said.

“It’s clear to the court that Mr. Nichols learned nothing” from his past crimes, Knisely said in court.

After hearing the sentence, Nichols chatted with his attorney, asking about “issues” with the SUV that Thavenius was driving at the time of the crash.

Earlier in the hearing, Nagle’s survivors berated Nichols, calling him a “killer” and a “drunken monster.”

Mary Nagle, Kelly’s stepmother, asked Knisely for the maximum sentence allowed by law.

“Send a message to all repeat DUI offenders, so maybe they’ll think twice,” Nagle said in statement read by Wilson. “Instead, (Nichols) chose to defy the law and remain a drunken monster.”

Tonya Nixon, Kelly’s stepsister ….MORE

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Illinois: Jason Rymut sent to slammer for nine years for DUI death of Bryan Bulger…one year to the day…

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Jason Rymut DUI fatal Ill 080813

From Daily Journal

A 32-year-old Manhattan man was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for causing a drunk-driving crash that killed another man exactly one year ago.
Jason R. Rymut had a blood-alcohol level of .121 when he slammed his Chevrolet Malibu into the the rear bumper of a vehicle driven by Bryan Bulger,
26, while it was idling at a stop sign on Cedar Road in Manhattan on Aug. 8, 2012.
The force of the impact sent Bulger’s Chevrolet Camaro flying into a third vehicle in the intersection, and Bulger suffered injuries that killed
him instantly.
Bulger’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the Camaro, survived ….MORE

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Pennsylvania: Judge Patti Worthington — “It’s not an ‘accident’ when someone causes another person’s death or injury while DUI”

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Judge lowers the boom on DUI killer James York, convicted of killing Walter Machalick
while driving under influence of pot and driving while suspended for DUI

From Pocono Record
James York of Effort had what his attorney called “a low level of marijuana” in his system last March when he drove under the influence and killed 85-year-old World War II veteran Walter Machalick, who was checking his mailbox in front of his Chestnuthill Township home.

York said he uses marijuana to alleviate nausea caused by an illness he has, and he never meant to hurt or kill anyone. Regardless, York has a drunken driving history dating back to 1987 and was driving with a suspended license for a prior DUI offense when he killed Machalick, Monroe County President Judge Margherita Patti Worthington pointed out in court papers.

“You consciously made the decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence and with your son in the car, no less,” Worthington told York when sentencing him Monday to four to 10 years in state prison on his vehicular-homicide-while-DUI guilty plea. (York had already dropped his son, who was under 16 at the time, at a friend’s when Machalick was killed.)

“It’s not an ‘accident’ when someone causes another person’s death or injury while DUI. It’s a conscious decision someone makes to drive in that
condition, knowing what can happen.” …..MORE

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Massachusetts: Judge John Agostini sends DUI killer Frederick Weller to 15 years in slammer for killing Moira Banks-Dobson

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DUI Killer Weller in cuffs

Judge says he doesn’t believe jail will change this “serious…violent criminal”

From North Adams Transcript

PITTSFIELD — Calling it the most disturbing vehicular homicide case he’s presided over, a Superior Court judge sentenced a Connecticut man with a history of drunken driving convictions to up to 18 years in prison for causing the death of a Sheffield woman.

Frederick J. Weller, 36, is a “serious criminal at times a violent criminal” with “a clear disrespect for the law in every aspect,” Judge John A. Agostini said.

Weller was drunk the night of Feb. 28, 2012, when he caused the multi-car accident on Route 7 in Sheffield that killed 24-year-old Moira Banks-Dobson and seriously injured former Great Barrington resident Russell Brown.

Weller, of Sandy Hook, Conn., pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular homicide, a seventh drunken driving charge, and seven other charges.

Handing Weller 15 to 18 years at the Cedar Junction state prison, Agostini said he didn’t believe jail would change Weller. ….MORE

Moira Memorial


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Wisconsin: Killer Victor Benitez has four notches in his belt, his four victims are in the grave; Judge sends him to slammer for 32 years

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Victor Benitez DUI fatal four times 32 years in jail

Victor Benitez ran off the road, killed his four passengers and ran from the scene
Ride with a drunk driver and buy a ticket to your own funeral…

From Journal Sentinel
A Madison man was sentenced to 32 years in prison Wednesday for a drunken driving crash that killed four people in Dane County, according to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office.

Victor Benitez, 19, must also serve 20 years on extended supervision for the February, 2012 crash in Fitchburg, according to a statement from Van Hollen.

The crash killed Alan Dickson, 25, Jose Cabrera-Hernandez, 18, Phankham E. Chitanavong, 17, and Martin Sanchez-Gutierrez, 17. ….MORE

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Florida: when lawyers lie to the court or think that everyone else is just stupid; deadly DUI Porsche driver Alyza Russell wasn’t going to flee the country, just go on vacation, says her attorney

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Alysa Russell DUI fatal 070413

Alyza Russell, Photos courtesy of Sun Sentinel

Judge sets bail at $450,000 for slaying of two while driver was twice legal limit in her Porsche
From Sun-Sentinel
When she fatally struck two men in Fort Lauderdale with her mother’s Porsche, Alyza Rachel Russell had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit, police say.

At a hearing Wednesday, a Broward judge set the 22-year-old’s bond at $450,000, after a prosecutor said she had told a co-worker she planned to flee to Europe.

Russell, who works at a South Florida dental equipment repair company, holds dual U.S. and British citizenship. Assistant State Attorney Eric Linder called her a flight risk, saying she had reapplied for a passport with the British consulate, appeared to have paid for the application with her debit or credit card after the crash and talked about fleeing to Ireland. … MORE

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Montana: Marcus Sickles sent to slammer for five years for killing Derek Nelson in booze cruise

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From Independent Record
MISSOULA — During an emotional hearing that featured repeated pleas for tougher DUI laws, a Missoula man who drove drunk and rolled his truck, killing his best friend, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

“For too many years now in the state of Montana, DUI and vehicular homicide have had little consequences … and behavior has not changed,” Barbara Nelson tearfully told Missoula County District Court Judge John Larson. “I truly believe it is time for the judicial system to change the plea bargain away from treatment and toward incarceration.”

Nelson is the grandmother of Derek Nelson, 22, of Missoula, who died when a black Chevy truck driven by Marcus Sickles failed to negotiate a curve on Interstate 90 near Frenchtown last July. A blood test put Sickles’ blood alcohol content at 0.287 percent, more than three times the legal driving limit, according to court documents. ….MORE

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Missouri: Damien Bryan sent to nearly 30 years in slammer for killing Don Edwards and Joan Hamilton in meth-head crash

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The Jefferson City man charged in the deaths of two motorists in Cole County in the summer of 2011 appeared in court for sentencing today.
Damien Bryan was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for causing the accident that killed Russellville resident Don Edwards, and Kansas resident Joan Hamilton. Authorities said Bryan was under the influence of meth when he crossed the center line and set off a chain reaction.
“The blue pickup was trying to cross South Country Club road, either to get on Route C or to ….MORE

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