Judge John Bosch was appointed to the bench by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Two months in jail for killing two people was the sentence from this moronic judge. The prosecutor is appealing this appalling decision.
September 1, 2015 – A former Kansas State University student who drove drunk and killed two people in a head-on collision has been resentenced.
KMAN reports Miles Theurer was sentenced Monday to concurrent sentences of three years and five months on two counts of involuntary manslaughter, followed by three years’ probation. Theurer was originally sentenced to 60 days in jail followed by probation and house arrest. The state appealed and a Kansas appeals court in November ordered a resentencing, saying the judge relied on incorrect legal standards in imposing the lighter sentence.
Theurer was originally sentenced to 60 days in jail followed by probation and house arrest. The state appealed and a Kansas appeals court in November ordered a resentencing, saying the judge relied on incorrect legal standards in imposing the lighter sentence.
Assistant Riley County Attorney Wes Garrison says Theurer and his friends spent the night drinking at a strip club in Junction City.
Miles Theurer graduated from Kansas in 2015.
According to his LinkIn profile:
Design and conduct field-based research projects primarily related to feedlot cattle. Evaluate observational data to make more informed decisions.
Photo courtesy of The Clay Center Dispatch
It’s a Kansas court ruling that has a lot of people talking.
A Riley County man was given two months in jail for driving drunk and causing a head-on collision near Manhattan that killed two people last year.
Miles Theurer had faced a possible sentence of 3 to 14 years in prison, but, following his plea to two counts of Involuntary Manslaughter While Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Theurer’s defense filed a motion for a downward departure, which the judge granted.
Viewers who saw the story on our KAKE Facebook page responded mainly with disbelief.
“Unbelievable,” Sandy wrote. “You can’t drive drunk but if you do and kill someone you get a slap on the wrist.”
“This is nothing short of absurd,” Donna wrote. “What on earth was the judge thinking?”
That’s exactly what the mother of Michael Stanley, one of the victims, would like to know.
“It’s an outrage the judge can get away with doing that,” Kim Neidenthal said.
Neidenthal spoke to our sister station, WIBW, Friday night and says she can’t believe the 60-day sentence.
“I’m angry with that judge,” Neidenthal told WIBW’s Lindsey Rogers.
Her son, Michael Stanley, and his fiancée, Elizabeth Young, were killed in the May 2012 accident caused by Miles Theurer.
Theurer, a Kansas State University graduate student, had a blood alcohol level of more than two times the legal limit as he drove home from a strip club with friends and veered into oncoming traffic.
“So basically, he’s got 30 days in jail for killing Liz and 30 days for killing my son, Mike, and then he gets to go on with his life,” Neidenthal said.
In giving Theurer 60 days in jail, Riley County District Court Judge John Bosch ….MORE
From Opposing Views
The families of Theurer’s victims were visibly upset by the verdict and one had an angry outburst outside the courtroom.
Bosch said he knew the sentence would be unpopular, but he hoped it would lead Theurer to give up alcohol altogether. …..MORE
TRANSCRIPT OF SENTENCING HEARING
(The following proceedings were had before the Honorable John F. Bosch at 1:50 p.m., on June 17, 2013:)
THE COURT: Mr. Garrison, if you would like to state the case.
MR. GARRISON: Yes, Your Honor.
May it please the Court: State of Kansas vs. Miles E.
Theurer, Case Number 12-CR-538. State of Kansas appears by and through James W. Garrison, Assistant Riley County Attorney. The defendant appears in person with Counsel, Pedro Irigonegaray, as well as whomever Mr. Irigonegaray’s staff, whose name escapes me at this point.
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: May it please the Court, Your
Honor: With the State’s permission and the Court authority, I would like to introduce the Court to Mr. Curt Jones, who is the senior law clerk in our office this year and who will be assisting me in the process.
THE COURT: Very well.
MR. GARRISON: And, Your Honor, as the parties know, this matter’s set before the Court for sentencing based on two convictions of involuntary manslaughter by way of driving under the influence, a Severity Level 4 Person Felony. The State did receive a copy of the PSI, and we are ready to proceed.
THE COURT: Mr. Irigonegaray?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you, Your Honor. May it please the Court.
THE COURT: Mr. Irigonegaray, I just want to —
anything before I just make a few comments about what we’re
doing here today?
- IRIGONEGARAY: Oh, I see, sir. No, sir, not at
this time, except to say we, too, have had an opportunity to
review the presentence investigation report and have no
THE COURT: Very well. The Court notes that the PSI prepared in this matter indicates that Mr. Theurer was, indeed, found guilty of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol on the 7th day of May 2013; that he was charged with two counts and one count for the death of Michael Stanley and one count for the death of Elizabeth Young.
The PSI indicates that we are dealing with Severity Level 4 Felonies with Criminal History Scores of I.
Is there any objection, Mr. Garrison, to the criminal history score of Mr. Theurer to an I?
MR. GARRISON: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Irigonegaray, I assume you have no objection to that?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: No objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Very well. This indicates that
Mr. Theurer would be facing a term of incarceration with the Kansas Department of Corrections from a minimum of 38 months, mitigated; aggravated, 43 months; standard of 41 months, with a presumption of prison. I might note that the PSI indicates that this is an offense that would require registration; however, I understand that that was an error, and that that has been clarified, that there is no registration requirement. Any objection to that, Mr. Garrison?
MR.GARRISON: No, Your Honor. Just noted that, as we’ve discussed previously, that the legislature did, in fact, recognize that error, and it’s, per legislation, not required.
THE COURT: Very well. I also note that the post release supervision duration, if Mr. Theurer is sentenced to prison, is 36 months, and that the probation duration would be 36 months, likewise, if he is granted probation.
So if we have no challenges to the criminal history, we have a motion for departure that has been filed on behalf of
Mr. Theurer. Mr. Irigonegaray, would you like to address your motion?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Yes, sir.
May it please the Court, Your Honor, Counsel: Judge, in my 40 years of practice, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a case like this one in which the loss for the family has been so significant as a result of what can only be described as poor judgment. The gentleman that took the families’ lives did not do so intentionally. It was accidental. His life up until that moment has been precisely what we want from our children:
A straight-A student, a participant in extracurricular activities, including farming activities, school activities, a good son to his dad and mom and his family, a good friend, good family member, a Kansas State University graduate, and a Kansas State School of Veterinary Medicine student with wonderful grades; not only that, a student that is earning a double doctor’s degree simultaneously — one involving extremely important work in genetics and how to develop a more stable supply of food for a world that is in greater need of it.
During his undergraduate studies, Mr. Theurer maintained a 3.722-grade point average. As I said, in high school, it was a 4.0. His many activities and participations are listed in our PSI, and I know that the Court has taken the time to carefully read our motion and the supporting memorandums.
I know that downward departures are rarely granted. But we also recognize that the legislature created the possibility of a downward departure, knowing that there would be those times, those occasions, in which an individual finds himself or herself in a situation similar to what Mr. Theurer finds himself in, in which it would be permissible for the Court to look at the totality of the circumstances and allow someone to pay back their debt to society in a manner that may not be the traditional approach, and that is what we are requesting the Court to do. We do not seek to run away from the responsibility of the wrong. The wrong is just that; he was wrong in what he did. And the harm, the pain, the loss is as significant as anyone can suffer. It’s the loss of life.
Two innocent people died on that May night by no fault of their own. And we know the reason: A young man got behind the wheel of a vehicle intoxicated, a young man that had never in his entire life had a DUI — driving while intoxicated – a young man that always practiced safe conduct in the operation of his vehicle, a young man that was respectful of others, hard working, dedicated student. But on that night his judgment was not appropriate. In fact, it was the opposite. Arguments could be made about the condition of the road, but we think that to do so diminishes his acceptance of responsibility. So that issue is not one that we are presenting to the Court, but one that we know was, in fact, a reality in the roadway in which this horrible accident occurred.
There are substantial and compelling reasons for this downward departure. Pursuant to K.S.A. 21-6815(a), reasons must be substantial and compelling, not imagined, but something with substance and not ephemeral. The dozens of supportive letters which the Court has received and copies of which have been provided to Counsel provide both substantial and compelling reasons for the motion for downward departure that we are seeking. The list of individuals that have provided their names and support are set forth in a table of contents that we have provided the Court. They include a variety of certificates and a variety of letters from former teachers, professors, public figures, individuals that have known Mr. Theurer for many, many, many years. And, too, of the person, they speak of Mr. Theurer in the highest regard, requesting this Court to favorably consider the downward departure motion that we have filed.
I have also read, and I have been impressed by the letters written by the family about their loved ones — their dad, their son. And I cannot begin to imagine the pain that this has caused you. On behalf of Mr. Theurer, I can express to you his most sincere apology. Even though words seem real loud, that’s all as a human being he can do is say he’s sorry. He truly is, and I join him as well as my entire staff in expressing those wishes to you. They are heartfelt. I wish somehow that through this process we could bring those lives back, but we cannot.
The sentencing guidelines in Kansas are designed to both punish the wrongdoer and to attempt to find solutions to the benefit of society by how we treat a defendant. Mr. Theurer has been found guilty as a result of his pleas of nolo contendere in this case. He did not want to challenge the accusations against him, knowing that this Court would find him guilty. We are now at the point in time in which the Court is going to have to make a very important decision as to what do we do from here. What do we as a society do with an individual like Mr. Theurer? What is it? What is it that our society can gain from this experience? Because we’ve already lost more than what should have ever occurred with the loss of these lives.
I have a proposition for the Court. Mr. Theurer is a brilliant student. I would request this Court to consider a sentencing scheme that would include jail time and house arrest. When he’s not in school, have him serve time in the county jail, have him serving time as a payback to society, but allow him the opportunity to conclude his education so that he may have an opportunity to pay back the over hundred thousand dollars that he’s now in debt in student loans.
This is not a pass. I suggest to you that while in school he may be limited in his activities to and from class, to and from educational activities, and at the end of that educational activity to be under house arrest, denied the opportunity to go do the things that other students get to do, that during the holidays, instead of going home with family, that he report to the county jail to serve time, because there is a salutary — a salutary advantage both to him and to the families and to society in letting people know that there are consequences.
Additionally, I would request that the Court consider that scheme in light of the fact that while serving that time in that manner, Mr. Theurer has been invited to go speak in high schools, at the University, surrounding junior colleges, to students, to let them know the reality of the nightmare that he created, to let them know that these are the consequences of that failure in judgment, so that perhaps — perhaps a benefit from serving time in the manner that I’ve suggested and participating in talking with students in junior high, high school, and college, and graduate schools the word can be better shared about the tragic consequences of drinking and driving.
This is not the first time that I have stood before the Court representing someone who’s killed someone while drinking and driving. My first involvement in a case like this was almost 40 years ago, and I keep thinking someday it will get better, and it has. There’s been a lot of education with organizations like MADD and others. But an individual like
Mr. Theurer gives us an opportunity to put a face — to put a human being as the cause of the problem and to be able to tell those students, I can tell you from my own personal experience what harm you can do to others if you don’t listen to me.
So in our agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, we agreed that the District Attorney’s Office would stipulate to a three-year sentence, giving counsel for the defense the opportunity to file a motion for downward departure for the Court to consider an alternative sentence. Well, I suggest to this Court that the three-year sentence remain, that he serve every bit of those three years, but that he serve those three years in a manner that allows him to complete his education, to complete an education for the benefit of our society, to ensure that he has the ability to pay back this giant mountain of debt, to continue his work on this incredibly important research project in which he’s getting his Ph.D. for the benefit of society so that he — in some manner we can find a benefit, not just for Mr. Theurer, but society in general.
I have had similar sentencing occur on prior occasion, and it works well. I know Your Honor has read all of the letters.
I will not waste the Court and Counsel’s time in repeating them. But to summarize my comments, I would suggest that these individuals that have taken the time to write, almost to the person, are very familiar with Mr. Theurer, with his character, with the lifestyle that he has lived up until this point, and with his significant benefits he can provide us as Kansans down the road. And with the sentencing mechanism that I suggested to the Court, punish him — punish him for what he has done.
He’ll be the first to tell you he deserves it. But let’s do it in a way that moves the issue forward, in a way in which perhaps the next time a young person drinks and drives they’ll remember — they’ll remember Miles’ word in school and pull over and perhaps avoid causing the type of harm that these kids and these family members have suffered.
Thank you very much, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Irigonegaray.
Mr. Garrison, you have filed a response to the motion for departure. Do you wish to be heard or have any evidence to present?
MR. GARRISON: Yes, Your Honor. I do have an individual from Kansas Department of Corrections here to testify — Ms. Viola Riggin. The State would call her to testify.
Called as a witness on behalf of the State of Kansas, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
- Miss, could you please state your name for the record.
- Viola Riggin.
- Where are you employed?
- Kansas University Medical Center, through the Kansas
Department of Corrections.
- In what capacity are you employed there?
- I’m the Director of Healthcare for the Kansas Department of Corrections.
- And how long have you been in that position?
- 13 years.
- And that’s been with Kansas Department of Corrections?
- Are you familiar with medical concerns or issues with inmates at KDOC?
- Yes, sir.
- Are you familiar with the specific medical diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes?
- Yes, sir.
- Do you currently — if you know this number — have knowledge of how many inmates at the Kansas Department of Corrections that have diabetes?
- Between 500 and 800 patients.
- And, specifically, you would agree there are different types of diabetes?
- With Type 1, how many specific diagnoses do you have of those?
- Several hundred.
- What sort of policies or conditions does KDOC have to
accommodate those individuals that have Type 1 Diabetes?
- In the Kansas Department of Corrections, we are required to provide healthcare at any and all levels required to maintain the community standard of care. So whatever services are allowed to a patient with Type 1 Diabetes while in the community is required while incarcerated.
- So, essentially, you would — a potential defendant — or a potential inmate would receive essentially the same care as an inmate as they would walking around the street?
- Patients who are in our system are required to have that, yes, that community standard of care, so we have family practitioners and we have also endocrinologists and other practitioners who take care of patients with diabetes in our system. And if we can’t get it in our system, they are taken to outside specialists in the community.
- I guess I don’t have any other words to put this in.
Essentially, does Kansas Department of Corrections have the ability to handle someone that has — could potentially have any kind of medical concerns related to Type 1 Diabetes?
- Yes. Kansas Department of Corrections, when you think about how they handle their healthcare, it’s the same as the first floor of any hospital. We have OB/GYN, oncology, dialysis on site, family practitioners on site, so we handle anything that we need to.
- Thank you.
- MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, I have no further questions. Thank you, Miss.
THE COURT: Mr. Irigonegaray?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Just briefly.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY:
- Out of those patients, ma’am, how many are on a pump?
- We have, that I am aware of, 12.
- 12 on a pump?
- Are they in one particular location?
- No. They’re allowed — any person who is a stable diabetic can go to any of our facilities, including our work release programs and our medium and minimum security as well as our maximum security campuses.
- With a pump?
- With a pump.
- And is this managed through Correct Care Systems?
- Correct Care Solutions, yes.
- And Correct Care Solutions is a private company through which the State contracts; is that correct?
- That’s correct.
- Are you with Correct Care Solutions?
- No, sir, I’m not.
- You’re a State employee?
- I’m actually a Kansas University Medical Center Employee, and I work as third party unbiased, monitor over the KDOC system and the Correct Care Solutions healthcare contract.
- So you’re familiar with the complaints that have been filed against Correct Care?
- Yes, sir.
- Alleging inappropriate care?
- I would be familiar with any case of complaint.
- IRIGONEGARAY: No further questions.
THE COURT: Very well. Anything further, Mr. Garrison?
MR. GARRISON: Briefly, Your Honor.
REDIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
- And with that knowledge, do you have any concerns for an inmate with a specific Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis and an insulin pump?
- IRIGONEGARAY: Objection, Your Honor. Goes beyond the scope of her ability to testify.
THE WITNESS: I’m not an attorney.
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Excuse me. She’s not a medical expert.
THE COURT: I’m going to allow her to answer the question. Go ahead — if you can answer it.
- I’m not an M.D., and I would not be able to answer that specifically.
THE COURT: Very well. Thank you.
MR. GARRISON: No further questions, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Very well. Ms. Riggin, you can step down. Thank you.
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Thank you, ma’am.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, State has no further evidence by way of witnesses or anything of that nature. I just have comments when the Court is ready.
THE COURT: Very well. I am ready for your comments,
MR. GARRISON: Thank you, Your Honor.
Your Honor, this — this is a tragedy. We know that.
Everybody in this room knows that. However, unfortunately, this is not an uncommon tragedy. This is a tragedy that happens all too often. In fact, it happens often enough that the Kansas legislature went ahead and made a statute that is specifically designed to address — to address scenarios like this — the involuntary manslaughter by way of DUI charge.
That is what the defendant has been convicted of.
Your Honor, there are public service announcements, there are TV ads, there are radio ads, infomercials, that talk about the risks of driving under the influence. It’s no surprise that someone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle who’s under the influence of alcohol could potentially kill someone.
Nonetheless, these tragedies still occur. As a result, the people of Kansas have decided there should be consequences, specific consequences, when a family’s nightmare becomes reality. That punishment is prison. That’s the consequence.
The defendant’s lack of criminal history is factored in appropriately with the Category I. He’s given a Criminal History Category of I, meaning no criminal history. If he had any history more significant than a misdemeanor, then his category would go up, and he would be facing more months under this offense.
The defendant’s lack of criminal intent has also been taken into consideration by the statute itself. The statute does not require an intent, specifically that he intentionally killed someone. In fact, it’s an unintentional killing of a human being. If the defendant in this case had any criminal intent, most likely the charge would be different; it would be a different charge; it would not be involuntary manslaughter by way of DUI. The Kansas legislature intended a person in the exact same scenario as the defendant with the exact same facts in this case — the legislature intended this person to go to prison. They — they made it a Severity Level 4 Person Felony.
They made it a presumptive prison case by way of the Kansas sentencing guidelines.
The State believes the defendant has not given the Court or provided the Court enough factors that reach the level of substantial and compelling to warrant the Court’s — the Court being forced to depart in this scenario. The defendant’s medical condition as addressed by his departure motion, as testified, is something KDOC currently deals with. It’s not unusual. It’s not something different from the status quo.
They can handle it. The defendant’s good grades, the research he was involved with, the volunteer work, friends, family, professional colleagues, career opportunities, debt, things of that nature, those are all socioeconomic arguments, Your Honor.
They don’t have anything to do with the facts in this case.
Whether the defendant had poor grades or no research or no debt or no life ambitions whatsoever, that still should have no weight or credibility to whether or not there’s substantial and compelling reasons to depart here.
The defendant had opportunities before, and he had – and he has opportunities after this incident. Those are not substantial and compelling, Your Honor. And as — as stated in the State’s response, I quoted case law — I’m not going to directly quote those now — they indicated that the Court’s indicated that’s not a factor that should be considered as substantial and compelling. The defendant fails to separate himself from the status quo of any other defendant that comes before the Kansas courts on this charge with these set of facts. Therefore, the State is asking the Court to impose the presumptive prison term of 41 months, the standard sentence in this case.
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Your Honor, I’m — there was a plea agreement for something other than that.
THE COURT: I think the plea agreement, Mr. Irigonegaray, was, indeed, for the standard 41 months. And with good time, I think you’re looking at probably 35 to 36 months.
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: I stand corrected. I stand corrected. That’s — that’s it.
THE COURT: Very well. You can continue,
MR. GARRISON: Thank you, Your Honor.
So, the 41 months as indicated, standard sentence, with good time as indicated on the PSI. Your Honor, if the Court follows which, as pointed out by counsel, was the plea agreement, the State indicated that it would be recommending these two counts for Elizabeth Young and Michael Stanley be run concurrently. Your Honor, if the Court follows that recommendation and orders the defendant serve the presumptive prison sentence, the Court is essentially cutting the potential time in half here. 41 months in the Kansas Department of Corrections. That’s the presumption. That is the State’s request, Your Honor. 41 months for the deaths of two individuals.
THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Garrison.
Counsel, I’ve been provided with a number of victim impact statements — and I’m aware that the family of Mike Stanley and Ms. Young have been informed of the hearing today — that — I’ve also been given another written statement, and I wish to let everybody know I’ve read these several times. And so I want to inquire at this time, Mr. Garrison, if there’s any victims who may wish to speak.
MR. GARRISON: Yes, Your Honor. There are family members of the victims that wish to speak at this time — notably, the parents of Mr. Michael Stanley, as well as a couple of the children of Ms. Young as well as Mr. Stanley. At this time, I will turn it over to them, and I believe they’ve kind of discussed who would like to speak first and address the Court directly.
THE COURT: Very well.
MR. GARRISON: If you could, for the record, indicate your name and then address the Court.
THE COURT: And I would ask whoever speaks come to the podium, please. So if you would maybe just call them by name, Mr. Garrison, and proceed that way.
MR. GARRISON: Yes, Your Honor.
MS. NEIDENTHAL: Your Honor, my name is Kim
Neidenthal — N-E-I-D-E-N-T-H-A-L.
THE COURT: One moment here. Your name again is?
MS. NEIDENTHAL: Kim Neidenthal.
THE COURT: Very well. You are the mother of — of
Mike Stanley; correct?
MS. NEIDENTHAL: That’s correct.
THE COURT: Very well. Ma’am, I have read your statement, but you can proceed. I’m sorry, I know this is going to be difficult for everybody, but we try to make a record of it, and so if you could try to speak as loud as you can so we can hear you.
MS. NEIDENTHAL: Okay.
THE COURT: Very well. And slowly.
MS. NEIDENTHAL: The loss of my son has impacted me greatly. I think of him daily. He is always on my mind. I have had to increase my medications, so now I’m on a max dose for depression. I’ve had a hard time with getting motivated to go on with completing things in my life. I have trouble concentrating at work. I’m always wondering what the defendant was doing during the summer and stuff. You know, was he out enjoying his life, doing activities, spending time with his family and friends, talking about the future with his family and graduating from college?
I think the biggest thing about this terrible accident is I won’t be able to see my son again. He was the most outgoing, loving person you would ever meet. My son was also planning for his future. He had just discussed with me on Friday about the FAFSA and how the different grants would work. He was planning on checking into the Manhattan Technical College for heating and air conditioning.
My son has always paid for the choices he had made in his lifetime, and I’ve always been there for my son. It will be just over a year since the loss of my son, and I have tried many times to put to words how this has impacted my life. My life will never be the same without Mike. The pain never gets easier to accept in my heart. I miss him so much.
Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine I would be sitting here making a victim’s impact statement on behalf of my son — my baby — because his life was taken when he was only 30 years old and in a violent head-on collision caused by Miles driving intoxicated, the wrong way, down a divided highway.
Here I am trying to sum up Mike in a few paragraphs. I will never forget the last thing that he spoke to me, and that was, Happy Mother’s Day. And that was on a Sunday.
The next morning while I was getting ready for work – I work on Fort Riley — I had heard on the radio about the accident, thinking that I needed to hurry to get to work since I live in Ogden, and most of my command on Fort Riley military worked in Manhattan — lived in Manhattan. So when I got to work, I was trying to get my stuff arranged because I had couple people call in sick, and I had soldiers coming in I needed to get taken care of, and so I was trying to get that taken care of. And then when I got back to my office, I noticed that my husband had called me several times on the phone. And when I called him back, he’d driven by my house and stated there were cops there at the house, so my first thoughts were, Okay, whatever, not going to find anything.
So I continue with my work, run around from building to building getting things situated with my soldiers. Again I returned to my office, lot of missed calls, so I called my husband, and he informed me that Mike and Liz was involved in an accident. I told him I was — I would be there in a minute.
My legs were shaking so bad I had to sit down for a second. I just knew that was not them that had been killed, but just the injured ones.
I left my office and met Captain Ruskamp, who is one of my employees, on the way out the door. I told her I would be back, that Mike was in a car accident. She asked me if she wanted to drive me — if I wanted her to drive me, and I said, No, I’ll be fine, you know, I’ll be back. As I was driving down Ogden, I could see the community center. Mike and Liz lived right across from the community center. I seen the Highway Patrol standing there. The officers were standing on the porch along with my husband. As I turned down the street,
I could see them standing there, and I knew what they were going to tell me. So, I pulled in the back and I parked in the parking lot — in their driveway — and sat there for a minute.
And as I got out of my car and walked around, my husband was standing there shaking his head. I’ll never forget that, ever.
So I knew then that Mike was dead. So I even confirmed it with the Highway Patrol and asked them. I said, Is my son dead or alive? He said, I’m sorry, ma’am, he did not survive. Then I asked him about Liz. And said, No, she did not survive either.
Then came all the questions. I’m trying to get all this in my head. Then came all the questions: What did I want happening to their bodies? You know, they were currently in Kansas City for the autopsy. Was he going to be a donor? You know. What were they doing at that time of the morning? As if he called me, said, Hey, Mom, I’m going to McDonald’s, you know. It was all just crazy. I couldn’t even think.
Time had just stopped. I was in a state of numbness and all that was going through my mind is, This can’t really be happening. Shock is the body’s way of buffering the full impact of a trauma until it can be absorbed. All I wanted to do was to go to him, hold him, kiss his cheek, tell him it would be okay. I regret so much not being able to hold and comfort him during his last moments on Earth, wondering if he had suffered. My heart, mind, body, and soul feel like I will never, ever find peace or closure. A piece of my being will be missing for the rest of my entire life. I was not able to say goodbye and let him know how proud I was that he was my son.
Now I have several mornings where it’s a battle to get out of bed and go to work. At times, I’ll start to cry and I can’t stop. It just continues on. Sometimes just a word or a song will trigger something that will remind me of Mike, and then would have to leave the room due to the ongoing flow of tears.
I don’t think that anyone can ever understand the loss of a child’s impact on a person’s life.
Trying to appear normal and pleasant so I can do – just do my job. Constantly pushing myself to engage in normal activity with my family and friends because it has been a year, and all the while my soul is screaming, My son is dead! The unbearable pain is always there. I literally feel like my heart is broken, and I know the heartache is here to stay.
But today is not about me and what the past 13 months have been like as they — as a parent trying to survive without my son. Today is about justice for Mike and Liz, making sure that Miles receives the full punishment for taking an irresponsible — for irreplaceable life. I am asking you, Your Honor, to consider if this had been your son. Our society must not tolerate drunk driving, but that irresponsible behavior continues because we do tolerate it. For nearly 13 months Miles has denied guilt. He has not made no attempt to show remorse for his actions. Not once has he expressed regret for killing my son. There’s no easy fix to make the loss bearable, and there is no such thing as closure when referring to an only son taken from his mother. But would be another blow to Michael and Liz’s family if he was sentenced any less than the maximum for killing my son and injuring his friends.
THE COURT: Thank you very much, Ms. Neidenthal.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, the next individual is Nadine Hoffman.
THE COURT: Very well. Ms. Hoffman, I believe you’re
Mike’s aunt; is that correct?
MS. HOFFMAN: That is correct. I want to thank the Court for the opportunity to be here. Unfortunately, I’m not as brave as my sister, Kim, so — who did a fabulous job.
THE COURT: Take your time.
MS. HOFFMAN: Mike was a very loving child, always with a smile on his face, always hugs to give. Both as a child and as an adult, Mike was always a caring and giving person.
Mike was the type of person who would give you his very last dollar, the shirt off of his back, even though he didn’t have much in life to give. Mike always measured his wealth with the love of family.
Mike, for the first time in his life, was actually thriving. He was applying to the HVAC school when his life was suddenly cut very short. He was engaged to a person that he actually loved with all of his heart and who loved him in return. Not only did he have two kids of his own, but he also helped take care of Liz’s two kids. And I know that family was thriving also. He often chose to spend time with the family instead of — and a quiet night at home instead of hanging out with other family members, just so that he could go back to the normal lifestyle. He had finally come into his own and was finally finding his way in life.
Kim and Jerry did everything in their power to guide Mike as he grew older. I know that they have mentioned on the defense side that he had done everything correct — Miles had done everything correctly in his life up until he made this poor decision.
Mike did not make those same choices growing up. He made poor choices, and he paid for those choices and was now able to turn his life around and was heading in the right direction.
Miles made a horrible choice. Mike’s made horrible choices and he was now thriving. Miles would have the opportunity once he does his punishment for what he’s done, and he can also thrive after he completes those sentences — sentencing of whatever — because other people have turned their lives around.
Kweisi Mfurne served a stint in jail, admitting he hung out with the wrong crowd. He was a high school dropout and had five kids when he was still a teen. He later turned his life around and became a congressman and then became president of the NAACP.
Larry Levine, in prison for conspiracy related to narcotics, security fraud, possession of automatic weapons among other things. Larry is now a federal prison consultant and assists with other attorneys and inmates. Excuse me.
I’m sure a lot of people know or have seen actor Danny Trejo, who went into prison for robbing stores and is now a famous star.
And, of course, if you watch TV, you’ve all seen Judge Greg Mathis.
Never know what happened or what could have happened with Mike as he grows older.
A victim’s impact statement is supposed to be how I have suffered, and I can tell you how devastated our family is ever since we received this notification. It is not been the same.
And watching my sister suffer daily is not getting any better.
But no matter what I say, the true impact and the painful loss can never be realized unless you’ve experienced a sudden and unexpected death of your own. The suffering is knowing that the person will forever live in your eyes as you last saw them and never realizing what might have been.
I have a daughter, and I recently have a grandson, and I can tell you that I would bargain my life for them every day of
the week just to allow them to stay on this earth, just as I know Kim and Jerry would gladly bargain their lives in exchange for Mike’s. Unfortunately, they were not given this choice.
Kim and Jerry could not bargain their lives for Mike’s as Miles Theurer and his family, friends, and professors are trying to bargain for his freedom. Mike has been permanently taken from his family by Miles Theurer, who made a conscious choice to drink beyond excess, get in his truck with his friends, drive the wrong way down the highway, and ignore the warnings by other vehicles trying to get him to go back onto the proper side of the road. Miles chose not to have a designated driver as most colleges preach, and, based on his poor decision, he headed down the wrong side of the highway, impacting with Mike and Liz head on and killing them instantly. When my sister called me on the phone to let me know about Mike, I felt like
I’d been hit by that impact, too.
I want everyone to think how they would feel if they were in this same situation. You lose a son, a daughter, a nephew, a brother, and you see this huge family suffering. You feel extremely powerless, knowing nothing you say or do can shield them from this pain.
I would like this Court to give Miles Theurer the maximum punishment allowed. Miles’ life — Mike’s life and Liz’s has been taken from them without trial or their input. Miles Theurer, by taking Mike’s life, already gave my family a life sentence. Miles Theurer is an educated individual, his family who would probably tell you they raised him to know right from wrong, and his professors would probably tell you what a bright individual he is and the impact he can make with his degree. I believe they are all correct, absolutely, which means Miles Theurer knew his actions in the early morning hours of May 14th, 2012, were wrong. Miles Theurer deserves to be held accountable for his actions, as everyone else is when they make poor decisions. Just as my sister always taught Mike, there are consequences for your actions, Miles needs to be held accountable for his actions.
Thank you for your opportunity to speak, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Very well. Thank you, Ms. Hoffman.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, it’s Pamela Stanley, and then Alyssa Stanley, the daughter of Michael Stanley.
THE COURT: Very well.
MR. STANLEY: Michael is never going to be replaced.
But on June the 14th, our lives changed drastically. Sorry.
When we found out that Michael was killed, Jerry, his father, was barely able to function for three months; he was totally broken. He’s still broken, and I don’t know if he’ll ever be whole again.
Michael, Jr. — we were notified by his teachers at school that he had become suicidal. He was having breakdowns in the classroom, crying uncontrollably. Had to remove him from the room till he calmed down. He talked about how he would kill his self because he wanted to be in a box with his dad. He still has breakdowns during the night. He has been under counseling heavily for a whole year. He’s getting a little better. He’s still lost.
Alyssa, a little girl that looks for her daddy at night.
She gets up, walks through the house, walks up to her dad, stands there and talks to him. She worries because he will never walk her down the aisle; he will never call her his little princess again; he will never see her grandkids.
Karen Smart, MADD mothers, sent a kit — video — to help the kids. It helped, but that got a long way to go.
All we’re asking for is justice for their dad because they have lost a future with him. That can’t ever recover. He was a loving, hands-on father. He had a whole lot ahead of him.
Alyssa — her dad always made her little birthday cards.
This one says — she was going to read it but she’s too nervous — To my princess, here’s a card just because you’re the prettiest redhead there ever was. Your face is the prettiest I’ve ever seen, with eyes the color of the deep blue sea. I hold you close to my heart. I have since the beginning, right from the start. And inside he wrote her a letter that talks about all the birthdays he’s going to spend with her, all the camping trips we’d planned, just everything that he was going to do with her and Michael.
I know everyone in the family is crushed. I don’t know how we’re ever going to pull ourselves together, but we just want fair justice. They don’t want their dad’s death to be for nothing. They need something to show them that their dad was a human being and a fine, loving dad. That’s all we want is justice. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you, Ms. Stanley.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, Ms. Karla Hagemeister from the Riley County Attorney’s Office is going to read a statement from —
MS. HAGEMEISTER: This is Kaitlyn Weeks. It’s K-A-I-T-L-Y-N — Weeks, W-E-E-K-S.
THE COURT: This is Michael Stanley’s sister.
MS. HAGEMEISTER: Yes. This is from a Facebook post.
“Today at 3:00 A.M. a year ago, my best friend — brother — was taken from me. It’s still hard every day waking up knowing my brother has to watch me live my life from Heaven and not just call me when I’ve had a bad day. I can’t believe how tough of a year I’ve had, considering he’s not here anymore.
It’s so hard dealing with the fact you’re gone. I have no one to tell my deepest fears to anymore. I can’t sleep at night anymore because it won’t help me. I stay up at night, praying to God I’ll hear your voice again, but it doesn’t work. I don’t think it will ever work. Everyone tells me how much you really loved me, and I just smile and look away only because inside my heart’s broken. But I love you and miss you. I’m sorry I never got to say goodbye. I need you more than you know. But I’m going to go. I’m crying so hard right now.
Again I love you. RIP.” The heart.
THE COURT: Thank you, Ms. Weeks.
MS. HAGEMEISTER: I’ll be reading another statement.
This is from Destinie — D-E-S-T-I-N-I-E — Howe — H-O-W-E.
Destinie is Elizabeth Young’s daughter. She’s standing here, and her father, Paul Howe, is with her.
“On one night in May of 2012, a stupid decision was made by an inebriated college student. That decision changed my and my youngest brother’s lives forever. My mother was – was stolen from my life because of something that could have been easily stopped. Now she will never get to be part of my achievements again. She won’t get to be part of my life as a mom, but as a memory.
First off, I’m in color guard in the marching band, and I perform a lot. My mom will miss out on seeing my performances for the rest of high school and college. Color guard has been a huge part of my life since I joined the band in the beginning of my freshman year. My mom and I used to go outside, and I would show her whatever part of the routine that we were working on that week, and she would watch and laugh when Malakhi would try to attack my flag or rifle. Now I won’t get to scan the crowd during the national anthem and find her in the stands, eyes glued to the field.
Secondly, she will miss my junior and senior proms, a high school student’s favorite thing to look forward to before graduation. Although I did attend my prom my freshman year and she helped me shop and find everything that I needed then, she won’t get to do all of that now. She won’t get to shop for a dress or help me pick out the right color of eye shadow. She won’t be able to help me do my hair or my nails. I won’t have her to tell me if the shoes I picked out were too dull or too glittery for my dress. Everything a girl would need her mom to help out with for prom I won’t be able to share with her.
After prom, there’s graduation from high school and then from college. My mom won’t get to be the loudest person in the room as she usually was in general. She won’t get to see me walk across the stage, turning to a new chapter in my life.
She won’t be able to help me decorate for my graduation party or help me find the perfect house or apartment for my college years if I wasn’t going to live with her or in a dormitory.
My mom will miss so much in those unpredictable years. Marriage — something every girl and some guys look forward to later on in life — is also going to happen without her. My mom won’t be able to help me pick the perfect dress or the right pair of shoes. She won’t be able to sit in the front row and see as my life changes instantly. She won’t be able to pick the reception foods with me. She won’t be able to freak out if the cake doesn’t turn out just the way I want it to look, as she would otherwise. She won’t be able to smile and wave as my husband and I ride off to our honeymoon together or anything like that. She won’t even get to meet him.
Another thing she will miss out on is when I do get married and decide to have children, she won’t get to spoil them as any grandma does. She won’t be able to argue with me on whether he or she looks more like me or my husband. My mom will never be able to feed them sugar or caffeine and send them home on the peak of their sugar rush. Although that’s not really a terrible thing, I will still miss out on being mad at her and sending them to her just as hyper, if not worse, as I’m sure she did to my grandma when I was younger.
I personally feel that we were both completely robbed of everything that could have happened in the future. I don’t understand why accidents happen when one little thing could have been changed. Nobody is forced to get behind the wheel or handlebars of any vehicle while drunk or high. Sincerely, Destinie Howe.”
THE COURT: Thank you, Destinie.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, this is Jerry Stanley, the father of Michael Stanley.
THE COURT: Yes, Mr. Stanley.
MR. STANLEY: Jerry Stanley. Father of Michael Stanley.
Saying he wants to help kids, right? Well, that’s a good idea, but I think he should get the full effect of it, of going and doing his time and then coming back and helping kids so he can tell them what to expect. That’s just short and sweet. And I want you to know I love my son. That’s it.
THE COURT: I’ve read your statement, Mr. Stanley. Thank you.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, I believe that concludes the victim/family statements.
THE COURT: Very well. At this time, unless Counsel have anything else they wish to address, I think we will take a short recess, and then we’ll proceed with allocution. The Court’s recessed.
(A recess was taken from 2:54 P.M. to 3:25 P.M.)
THE COURT: We are back on the record in the State of Kansas vs. Miles Eugene Theurer, Riley County Case 12-CR-538. I note for the record that Mr. Theurer is present with Counsel and so is Mr. Garrison for the State.
Is the State aware of any legal reason why sentencing should not be imposed at this time?
- GARRISON: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Is the defendant aware of any legal reason why sentencing should not be imposed at this time?
- IRIGONEGARAY: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Theurer, you’ve been found guilty of two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. Do you wish to make any statement on your own or present any further evidence in mitigation of punishment?
- IRIGONEGARAY: Your Honor, on behalf of Mr. Theurer, he would like to address the Court.
THE COURT: Very well.
- THEURER: Your Honor, first I’d like to apologize to the family of Michael Stanley and Elizabeth Young. I’m truly sorry for the actions that led to the tragic accident on May 14th, 2012. There’s not a single day that goes by that I do not think about what occurred during those early morning hours, what I should have done differently to prevent this from occurring. Unfortunately, I am not able to go back in time and turn the clock back and change my actions, and we are all here left to deal with the consequences.
No parent should ever have to experience burying their loved one — their child — an experience no one should have to. Unfortunately, through my actions that has occurred.
Suffered the most from this are the children of Mr. Stanley and Mrs. Young. They will not have the opportunity to have the parental guidance and support they deserve. Sincerely hope that they have been able to reach out and find strength from their loved ones and help them through this process and be there for them. No one will be able to replace what their parents had to offer for them, though.
I would also like to apologize to the passengers that were in my vehicle that night of the accident. I should have been responsible enough to realize the extreme consequences of drinking and driving. Unfortunately, a lapse of judgment on my behalf has caused these rippling consequences that we are all left here to deal with for the rest of our lives each and everyday.
Like to apologize to the community, to the officers and emergency personnel that responded to the scene of the accident to witness the graphic scenes of what occurred. I know it caused great anguish and pain they have to visualize each day throughout the rest of their life.
Also, like to apologize to my family and friends – the pain, grief, disappointment that I’ve caused all of you throughout this event for my actions. It’s been overwhelming for you. Fortunately for me, you have all been very supportive throughout this entire process. I’ll have to continue to work hard to gain back the trust that you have all instilled in me and try to rebuild that.
Finally, Your Honor, I’d like to apologize to you, as judge, as representative, as the State of Kansas judicial system, for having to take the time and effort to process the case before you.
I ask the Court to grant the downward departure to allow me the opportunity to talk to the high school, college, professional students, explain the true consequences and their effects on drinking and driving. My goal in talking with these students is to explain the nightmare that I have been through, so they will not make the same tragic, dumb mistake that I made that evening. Feel I will be able to relate to several of these students, because — having similar age and going through some of the similar experiences that they are currently going through. I think I’ll be able to truly explain to them how the impacts can happen even just doing this one time. One time is all that it takes to have the rippling effects that these family members — family and friends that have had to deal with.
While there’s no amount of money I could pay, time I can serve, community service that I can do to ever repay my debt to society for my actions that I performed, I do believe that I can still be a positive influence on society and help people from making some of these same tragic mistakes in the future. Thank you.
THE COURT: Anything further, Mr. Irigonegaray?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: No, sir.
THE COURT: Well, fortunately, the Court doesn’t sentence people in a vacuum. There are guidelines. There are sentencing considerations for the Court to consider. I think in a case such as this that it’s appropriate to look at some of those considerations that the Court is considering in imposing a fair and just sentence for Mr. Theurer.
First of all, with the sentencing guidelines, there are certain considerations the Court is to take into consideration, and I’m just going to read from this. It says, The sentencing court should consider all available alternatives in determining the appropriate sentence for each offender. The sentencing guidelines seek to establish equity among like offenders and typical case scenarios. Rehabilitative measures are still an integral part of the correction process, and criminal justice professionals will continue their efforts in reestablishing offenders within communities. The guidelines do not prohibit sentencing courts from departing from the prescribed sentence in atypical cases, but departures are only legislatively authorized when the sentencing court properly follows statutory departure procedures.
So the first question this Court is looking at is, Do we have a typical situation here or an atypical situation?
Sentencing principles that judges are to keep in mind in considering what alternatives are available to the Court and appropriate in a particular case are these: Can the causes for the offender’s behavior be determined? And how can the criminal justice system effect changes in the behavior of the convicted person? In most cases, society is best protected by rehabilitative measures in the corrective process, as the offender will ultimately be released from incarceration. The plan or program should be designed to change his or her attitudes and behaviors.
And I just might note at this point that Mr. Irigonegaray made it clear that the cause of Miles Theurer’s behavior in this accident was because this young man got behind a wheel while intoxicated.
Another question to consider: Is there a need for physical restraint to prevent repetition and to protect society? Incarceration is appropriate when the offender should be isolated from the community in order to protect society, or if the offender can only learn to adjust his or her attitudes and behavior in a closely controlled environment.
Another question the Court is to keep in mind: Is there a need to deter others from committing the same crime?
All of these questions and considerations are to be considered in light of the statute that requires how courts are to construe the sentencing statutes.
And I’m just going to quote from the statute: It says — it makes it clear — K.S.A. 21-6601 — Legislative policy to be followed is to be liberally construed to the end that persons convicted of crimes shall be dealt with in accordance with the individual characteristics, circumstances, needs, and potentialities as revealed by case studies; that dangerous offenders be correctively treated in custody for long terms as needed; and that other offenders shall be dealt with by probation, suspended sentence, fined, or assignment to a community correctional service program whenever such disposition appears practicable and not detrimental to the needs of public safety and the welfare of the offender.
We’ve heard from the victims of this crime, and I thank the family for coming forth. I’ve seen Alyssa’s poster of pictures of her father. And I’ve read Michael’s father’s statement about the psychological impact it’s caused to him and his family. And nothing I do today will ever take the pain away from you that you feel. Nothing I do today will ever take the pain away that Mr. Theurer feels for what he’s done. And with keeping some of those considerations in mind, I’ve looked at this case, and I wish to read from some of the letters that have been submitted by the acquaintances and friends of Mr. Theurer.
I was going to first read from Liz Young’s and Mike Stanley’s family’s statements, but they read them for me. I appreciate them doing that. And I’ve heard them, and I think everybody has heard them. But there’s been some things that I haven’t heard yet but it’s only in the record that I think you need to hear. And, Counsel, correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that this incident was the result of a night when Mr. Theurer and three of his friends were celebrating the end of a tough semester in vet school; is that my understanding? Is that correct?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: That is correct, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And I’m not sure if there’s a correct way to do this or not, but I’m going to read from these, just as they have sort of jumped out to me. And I shake my head, and I can’t understand why somebody like Mr. Theurer would do something like this, and especially after reading the letter from a classmate that says, “I’ve seen him on multiple occasions stop people from driving drunk by helping them find a safe way home. The first time I saw Miles after the accident I was heartbroken to see the anguish he felt over what happened.
I know he lives with a lot of regret and guilt now and would never make the same mistake again.” And I just can’t understand how he could stop others but yet not stop himself.
And I just — but anyway — but following the considerations in that, I am to impose a sentence in accordance with the individual characteristics. And I think before I go to that, I might just say that the severity level of this case is the most severe. The defendant’s actions caused the death of two innocent people — both young parents with children, families, parents of their own, and it’s a Level 4 Person Felony. So it is of the most serious offense. But I want people to know a little bit more about Mr. Miles Theurer that I got from these letters.
And the first letter that I’m going to mention is from his South Haven High School ag teacher who’s — who has taught for 33 years. He says, “I dedicated my career to helping students in our community, and one of my proudest achievements was assisting Miles as he pursued his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Even as a freshman in high school, Miles was committed to education and agriculture. He respected his family farming heritage and combined it with his own intelligence.”
Many of his professors wrote letters. And one of them was from his professor in microbiology. “Miles Theurer comes from a family farm. His admission to the DVM program three years ago, a highly competitive with rigorous requirements, was a dream come true for Miles. Because his family managed Simmental cross cow/calf operations, Miles has been around cattle all his life, and he has planned his education meticulously — degrees in animal science, DVM; Ph.D. in food animal production medicine — to become a veterinarian specialized in nutrition, management, reproduction, health of beef cattle. Miles is one of the few students in the DVM program admitted to work concurrently on a Ph.D. program.
Generally, students are allowed to pursue — generally, students are allowed to pursue dual degrees only if they are academically strong, have excellent worth ethics, strong desire in and commitment to research. It takes an extraordinary effort, commitment, and discipline to be able to meet the challenges of a DVM and Ph.D. requirements and expectations.
Based on Miles’ performance for the past two years, I can truthfully say that Miles has met those expectations and has made significant progress.”
Dr. Larson, his advisor, says, “While a criminal record will certainly limit his future opportunities for many professional positions, his abilities and training will allow him to serve society best by completing his education and providing valuable services to livestock producers in rural communities.”
The Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine says, “While matriculating through our rigorous curriculum, Miles has simultaneously pursued a Ph.D. degree. This is not a common thing. Only one to two students per year at most have taken this educational pathway. Many years we have no students attempt such an educational path. Miles has pursued this route in order to prepare himself to be more than a practicing veterinarian; he has been seeking to be an effective leader in beef cattle veterinary medicine. He has recognized that in order to do that he needs to go the extra mile. It is my understanding that he is progressing through this graduate program in a very satisfactory manner.”
It’s interesting in that reading through a lot of these letters, the effects of drunk driving have affected many of Mr. Miles’ — I mean, Mr. Theurer’s acquaintances. And one letter is from a classmate — well, this letter’s actually from a professor — Dr. Mosier — who said, “On December 14, 1974, my brother was killed by a drunk driver approximately one mile west on K-18 from the site of Mr. Theurer’s accident. Two days later, the other passenger in my brother’s car died from injuries sustained in the accident. After nearly 40 years of reflection on my brother’s death, I realize that everyone involved in these tragedies are victims. I understand the range of emotions that the families and friends of Ms. Young and Mr. Stanley are feeling. I also realize that one bad decision — a decision made by many students that time of year without consequences — has, and will, continue to change the course of Mr. Theurer’s life forever. There can be no court-determined justice for the families of Ms. Young and
Mr. Stanley, just as there can be no court-determined punishment for Mr. Theurer that is worse than the one he has already been ladened with. I don’t know the law or what flexibility there is for punishment. However, as a citizen and taxpayer of Kansas, I would prefer a meaningful punishment.
Incarceration as a punishment seems regressive in this type of situation. Removing Mr. Theurer from society for a period of time benefits none of the victims or the public in the long term. A meaningful punishment that allows him to tell the story and reach out to others who could be influenced by his mistakes seems a better way to benefit the victims as well as society. The families and friends of Ms. Young and Mr. Stanley will also have the knowledge that their loss may help prevent similar situations in the future and that Mr. Theurer will frequently have to visit — revisit the impact he has had on so many lives. In many ways, they could consider this the greatest punishment possible since Mr. Theurer will frequently reflect on their loved ones — what could have been and the tragic outcome of his mistake.”
I note that Dr. Mosier also says, “Entrance into veterinary school, concurrently working on a graduate project as a Ph.D. student, are notably undertakings under the best of situations. I don’t think many things have been handed to Mr. Theurer during his life. His achievements up until now are a reflection of his own hard work, persistence, and never quit attitude.”
A letter from a classmate says, “I’m familiar with the correctional system in the State of Kansas, as well as the United States. My father is a reserve deputy. My twin sister was recently released from federal prison and has given me a greater understanding, appreciation of our legal system.” He says, “The application of time in prison is best served for those who need a correctional atmosphere to help fundamentally change who they have been prior to their conviction. Miles does not belong in this group because he is a good and valuable person and does not need correction in regards to his core. He does have improvement to be made, but then again he would not be human if he did not have anything he could improve upon.
There is so much at stake for this young man, and he will likely lose much of his life accomplishments because of this one life-changing event. I ask that you examine the positives and negatives of the sentencing possibilities and how they affect not only Miles, but also society.”
A letter from another professor — another Dr. Moser —
“As the father of a high school student, I know Miles Theurer could have — could make a great impact on youth by telling his story to young adult audiences of high school and college students. In many ways, Miles has been a role model — a young man with a track record of success, very much like — very much what I would like my son to become. If Miles can be involved in such a tragedy, any student can. His story would be of great benefit to young people like my son, making them think about the potential consequences of their decisions. Miles is an excellent speaker with skills developed through FFA and high school and several student leadership positions in college and could convey his story in an effective and powerful way.”
Last letter I think I’ll read is from Mr. Theurer’s aunt and a high school science teacher. “I’ve known Miles almost all his life, as I married his Uncle Jason when Miles was a small boy. I was his science teacher in high school and junior high and also was his class sponsor. I find myself in an awkward position, having to see both sides of a terrible situation. You see, my cousin, Jeremy Alford, was killed in
Oklahoma by a drunk driver. Jeremy left behind an unborn child, Grace, who is now eight years old and never met her father. So I know how the family feels to have someone taken away.
Would it be better to remind him and others of what one reckless decision can do to destroy lives and have Miles try to influence others not to make the same mistake? As a high school teacher, I know there are others who potentially could be touched by a personal message not to drive after drinking.
Miles has very good public speaking skills thanks to all of his years in ag speaking. He could very well fill a need for this in society, perhaps having him travel as his own — at his own expense and speak to high schools and colleges across Kansas about how one decision can ruin and change so many lives would make a difference. If by speaking and convincing even a few others to avoid drinking and driving, what would be the value of saving others this heartache and painful loss? How much would it save the taxpayers — paying citizens in the long run, if even two or three accidents such as this could be avoided?
The loss of life is a horrific thing to deal with on both sides of the equation. One side feels cheated out of a loved family member, and the other has lifelong guilt, regret, and embarrassment for one stupid decision.”
I think drunk driving has affected everybody. And so, the decision for this Court is where should Mr. Theurer basically reside for the next 36 months — 41 months — to possibly 82 months?
I went through those letters and read them, made a list of attributes, but I don’t think I’m going to read those attributes. They’re long, lengthy. I think I’ll just go through this and highlight what I see with Mr. Theurer. And I do this in attempt to decide if we have an atypical case – do we have a typical — just the typical manslaughter case?
Mr. Garrison, I think, would like me to believe that anybody standing convicted of this crime should automatically go to jail — prison. I don’t believe that’s what the law provides. I think I am required to decide is there anything atypical about this case that requires justice be anything different.
And that’s what I’m attempting to do. But I want to go through a few more things before passing sentence.
I’ve already mentioned the severity of the crime is the most severe. And some other further findings of fact that I need to look at — Mr. Theurer was given a service — a Level of Service Inventory test. It’s called the LSI-R. That looks at the entirety of his life to the present to help determine if Mr. Theurer has a risk of re-offense. Mr. Theurer scored a 9 on this, on a scale of 1 to 54. This places the defendant in the minimum of level of supervision range. And based on this score, it indicates that there is a low risk that Mr. Theurer will re offend.
Mr. Theurer completed a 32-hour alcohol education program on his own, but the Court ordered Pawnee Mental Health do an alcohol and drug assessment. And as a part of that assessment, he takes a test called the SASSI. And the SASSI profile was completed by Pawnee Mental Health, and it indicates a low probability that Mr. Theurer has a substance dependence disorder. Pawnee recommends outpatient counseling for Mr. Theurer and that he abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs.
The prognosis is generally good that he will not be drinking and driving after drinking.
Mr. Theurer is a 24-year-old male, never married, no children, who reports he is mainly focused on school.
Defendant has expressed remorse. The letters are full of indications about how Mr. Theurer is remorseful. We have heard a statement today. I think there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that Mr. Theurer is remorseful.
If the offender’s criminal history is none? The defendant has no prior criminal history. There is not only a lack of felony convictions, but there is, in fact, no prior misdemeanor convictions, and there is no evidence that he has ever broken the law before. The State in their response correctly argues that since Mr. Theurer’s Criminal History Score is an I that his past history has clearly and fairly been taken into account on the criminal sentencing grid. That is correct. But not all history scores I’s are the same. There’s absolutely nothing on
Mr. Theurer’s record. And a defendant’s complete lack of criminal contacts can be considered in departing. It’s not a factor by — in and of itself to justify departure, but it can be considered in the overall picture.
Mr. Theurer is diabetic. We’ve heard some statements here today regarding his — the fact that he is on an insulin pump.
We have heard from the Medical Director for the Kansas Department of Corrections that there are inmates in the current Department of Corrections — hundreds, actually — who are diabetic, and there is 12, she believes, that have the pump.
Now, in the letters that were given me, I — stated by his aunt that Miles was told at one time he’d never live to be — to see 25 without the insulin pump. I also noted in one of the letters from a neighbor, a lifelong neighbor of Mr. Theurer, an individual who wasn’t sure if he should write a letter because he was retired law enforcement, but he did, and the letter he wrote, in it he stated, “I do not know if Miles can survive any confinement because of his gentle nature and his medical condition.”
Is Mr. Theurer’s diabetes a factor that would require departure? Kansas law is clear it’s not in and of itself. But a defendant’s poor health is related to a defendant’s amenability to incarceration. It’s unrelated to culpability.
And here we have an individual who has struggled for years to stabilize his condition that requires constant monitoring, and the legislative policy requires the Court to consider the welfare of the offender. And, again, as I said, it’s not a sufficient factor, but it is one that can be considered with others.
Mr. Theurer has a supportive family. In and of itself, it’s not sufficient either, but it can be considered.
Good employment record. Good education record. Can be considered positive factors. Insufficient in and of itself, but can be used.
What do we know about Mr. Theurer’s educational record and employment record? Well, again, from the information provided and the letters provided, Mr. Theurer has worked ever since he was a young child. In high school, he worked at an auto shop in South Haven. Throughout high school, he farmed and raised cattle. In the summer, in college, he did so as well, even baby-sat. There’s a letter from a babysitter; says she’d had no problem with Mr. Theurer watching her children. And he’s worked in research at K-State for the last two years, so he’s been in school full time and working as well.
Defendant’s rehabilitative efforts: It was mentioned that Mr. Theurer has — it’s been a year since this accident occurred, and he’s not been in trouble. He’s gone to school, worked on his degree, and preparing for this day, and has presented to the Court through his attorney a proposal that during — instead of being sitting in prison for the next three years — approximately three years — that he go out into society to high schools, to colleges, universities, to whoever, and tell them his story, to educate them, and as I believe Mr. Irigonegaray said to put a face with the person.
Mr. Garrison, I know you mentioned there are many public service announcements; we see them all the time. And people keep on drinking and driving, and people keep having accidents and people keep dying. Mr. Theurer would be, and it’s been proposed, an excellent person to speak. People have described him in the letters as an “impactful speaker” with the “ability to capture an audience.” He’s “well-spoken.” He will “be an advocate against drunk driving” if allowed to speak. “When he speaks, people listen.” “The mothers and fathers of the thousands of lives he can reach through speaking engagements will be grateful.” He could “share his story throughout the nation.” He is an “articulate, convincing speaker.”
Basically, other than this incident, which has been described as aberrant behavior, Mr. Theurer has led a rather perfect life, in spite of the fact he’s diabetic, in spite of the fact he could not play sports, which might account for why he has been so involved in things. I don’t think there was a thing in high school he wasn’t involved in. I don’t think there was a thing in college that he wasn’t involved in.
One of his professors — and apparently, I misplaced it — indicated in the past 10 years, as long as this professor has been teaching, there’s not been another person who has been more involved than Mr. Theurer. I think the Court can find that Mr. Theurer is not a threat to public safety, that he accepts his responsibility, and that it’s doubtful he would present a threat to public safety in the future based on the LSI-R and the Pawnee report.
Mr. Theurer, if you would stand.
For the conviction of involuntary manslaughter, while driving DUI, for the death of Michael Stanley, I sentence you to 41 months in the Department of the Secretary of Corrections for the State of Kansas.
For the conviction of involuntary manslaughter while DUI, while driving under the influence of alcohol, for the death of Liz — Elizabeth Young — I sentence you to 41 months in the custody of the Department in the Secretary of Corrections.
On this term, you may earn up to 15 percent good-time credit if you are to serve this sentence. Upon release, you would be subject to 36 months of post-release supervision. I will order that these sentences be served concurrently pursuant to the plea agreement.
I don’t believe any of the factors that I have mentioned, Mr. Theurer, standing alone, would justify a downward departure. But I can’t imagine a situation where we have – I ever have someone come before me again where they have done everything that society expects to be done by a person except for this one thing.
You have been described as, you know, a role model to children, described as a stellar student, as a star student.
It’s too many to cover, but you are an exceptional person that I find to be an atypical case. And in this case that, when considering the totality of all of the facts of your life up to this point, I find that you should be granted a downward departure and that there are substantial, compelling reasons when considered in all their totality. By this, I’m not in any way saying that the lives of the two young folks – Mike Stanley and Liz Young — were not valuable lives. They were the most. Every life.
So what the Court will do for a sentence is I will require that you serve as much time in the Riley County Jail as I can when I place you on probation, which is 60 days. I will order that you be escorted from court today, and you will serve the next 60 days in the Riley County Jail. You will be placed on 36 months of probation with the Court Service Officer for Riley County; that during that time of probation, you will be on house arrest, except for certain times, and we will cover those in a minute. The reason I’ve decided this is because I feel that you could be locked up for 36 months. The family would love to see you locked up for a long time — longer than that.
The law doesn’t allow that.
And for you to use your God-given talents, and if you can reach one person it will be worth it during those 36 months. I have no doubt that maybe you can do the same thing if you spent that time in prison, but I don’t know.
What I think is best for society is that you get your degree, that you realize that you have a lot of good to do with your life, not just for yourself, but you have, really, three people’s lives on your shoulders. You have everything that
Mr. Stanley would have done good, everything that Elizabeth Young could have done during their lifetime. And you’re going to have to make up and, to society, what you’ve done. And I think this might be a start where, if you do as I think you can, as you are such an atypical, such a unique person with such skills, that I think maybe you can touch some people out there. And so the 60 days you’re sitting in jail, I want you to put together a written proposal for how you are going to do what you say you can do. And I want — and I’m going to order that during the 36 months that you are on probation that you talk to no less than 36 either high schools, colleges, church groups.
I realize that this is not going to be a very popular sentence. In some ways, I hope everybody in the state of Kansas knows Miles Theurer’s name because it will give you that platform that you can use to hopefully reach out and stop somebody else, like you’ve stopped people before from drinking and driving drunk. And if you can get — reach through to one person and save one life or make an impact on one person, then I think that that is the better thing for society.
You have some incredible contacts, and I think that the first contact — the first place you need to look, and this is just some thoughts for you to think about while you’re sitting in jail, the vet school. You were with, I think, three vet students — four of you. There are other ways to celebrate completing a semester than drinking — other ways to celebrate.
And I hope that you can address it. I understand you’re on some ethics committee at your school, and that might be a place to start. The University — Kansas State University — I’m sure it has many organizations. The School of Agriculture, I think, is probably the biggest school and — if not next to the biggest school on campus — and so you have an audience there that can listen to you. You have been involved with K-State Extension. K-State Extension touches every county in the state. You’re involved in FFA. Every county in this state.
There are churches; there are youth groups. I hope you don’t stop at 36, but I’m going to order that you do 36. I want you to prepare, like I said, whatever it is you’re wanting to talk to them about. I will approve it. And I want to see it before you do anything. And like — I want it — I want to see a draft of it before you leave jail. I’m going to impose all the conditions as was suggested by the Court Service Officer.
You will, as I said, follow the recommendations — well, maybe I didn’t say it. I’m going to say it now. You’re going to follow the — do outpatient counseling through Pawnee Mental Health or any other approved agency. I want you to complete an alcohol and drug school. I want you to see what it’s like.
Maybe you can improve it. You’re to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs. You’re to have no contact with Mr. Stanley or Ms. Young’s immediate families without prior coordination and approval by your supervising officer. You will attend a victim impact presentation. You will be subject to ignition interlock device for the duration of the supervision period at your own expense. You will be subject to portable alcohol monitoring for the duration of your supervision. You will pay court costs of $195, KBI DNA database fee of $200, the KBI lab fee of $400, the correctional supervision fee of $120.
As I previously informed you when you entered your plea, a conviction of involuntary manslaughter cannot be expunged. You have no expungement rights. You have the right pursuant to K.S.A. 22-3608 to appeal my sentence within 14 days from today’s date.
Counsel, is there anything that I have not addressed that needs to be addressed?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Garrison?
MR. GARRISON: I don’t believe so, Your Honor. Thank you.
THE COURT: Mr. Clark — Mr. Murray, anything?
MR. MURRAY: Your Honor, on the 60 days, are you allowing — I presume he’s a student right now. Are you allowing school release?
THE COURT: No. He’s a student now. He’s going to go to jail today. Mr. Maldonado will escort him. If he misses all his summer school, that’s tough. He’ll be able to be out in time for the fall semester, and with the letters from his Dean and professors, I assume they’ll make that work. And so, Mr. Theurer, I hope that 10 years from now that the families of Mike Stanley and Liz Young will look back and say that was the right decision. I don’t know if they will. And only you can — can prove to them and to everybody else that this was the right decision. As I said, the pain they have will never depart from their life. The pain that you suffer, too, will never depart from your life, but you can go forward and make a difference. And I hope that you can completely abstain from the use of alcohol. I hope you never touch a drop of alcohol again. I hope that you can lead a life that’s alcohol-free and set the example for everybody else out there, that you don’t need alcohol. And if you do this, then that is what I hope.
And if you don’t, then you’ll make a fool out of the whole system. So it’s in your hands, and I hope and wish you well.
And, Mr. Irigonegaray, if you can make arrangements for — if you want to go with Mr. — Officer Maldonado, I think you can take him now. Is there anything else we need to do?
MR. IRIGONEGARAY: No, sir.
MR. GARRISON: Not from the State, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Very well. Court’s adjourned.
(4:23 P.M., proceedings adjourned.)
END OF THE PROCEEDINGS