At David Odom’s funeral last October, 300 mourners recalled a fun-loving husband, father of three, dear friend, and co-worker who lived most of his nearly 40 years around Lake Worth.
At the Palm Beach County Courthouse on Monday, some of Odom’s closest survivors again shared their memories while urging a lengthy prison sentence
for William Michael Melendez, the drunken driver who shattered their lives on Oct. 1, 2012.
Circuit Judge Charles Burton listened to Odom’s loved ones describe their anguish, and he heard Melendez, 35, speak of his “shame and guilt” while pleading guilty. Then Burton sent the Lake Worth man and repeat convicted felon away to state prison for 25 years.
The punishment is five years longer than requested by the State Attorney’s Office, and nine years longer than the defense wanted, but still less than the 30-year maximum possible sentence for the crime of DUI manslaughter and failure to render aid.
“You’re sitting here today having taken another human life, whether intentional or not,” the judge told Melendez.
Burton bemoaned such senseless tragedies keep happening because “nobody seems to learn” from the dangers of substance abuse.
“Drugs and alcohol, it’s destroying our society, it’s amazing,” he said.
Court records show Melendez had a .185 blood-alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit of .08. But he took the wheel of his Chrysler Sebring and plowed into Odom’s Mercedes at 4:05 p.m., on Military Trail, south of Melaleuca Lane. Melendez, unemployed and driving on a suspended license, also had cocaine and marijuana in his system.