Minnesota: victim tells Judge she will always lay in a hospital paralyzed; Judge gives DUI driver 1 year in prison


From Star Tribune

Kellie Stein doesn’t have a life anymore; she says she just exists.
Kristin Kealy, a single mother who had a clean driving and criminal record, drove drunk on a Coon Rapids road at a speed police say reached 90 miles per hour last August, and rear-ended Stein’s Pontiac Firebird as it slowly crept into what Stein believed was an empty traffic lane.
Paralyzed from the neck down, Stein left the hospital Thursday for the first extended trip since the accident to tell an Anoka County judge how Kealy shattered her happy life.
Kealy, 25, who received a year in jail, said nothing to Stein during the hearing. Judge James Cunningham Jr. told Kealy he’s not one to beat up on people, but said she received a tremendous break on her sentence.
“If I had more latitude, I would have sentenced you to jail for a lot longer,” he said.
Stein, 32, was wheeled into the courtroom by her longtime boyfriend, who kneeled beside her and held an impact statement that Stein had dictated to a hospital volunteer.
Her first words barely audible, Stein talked about the events of Aug. 10, when Kealy made the reckless decision that changed Stein’s life forever. Kealy had been drinking with friends at Biff’s bar in Spring Lake Park and was driving on Coon Rapids Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. when her vehicle smashed into Stein’s. Her blood alcohol level was 0.24, three times the legal driving limit. She initially told police she wasn’t driving, according to a court document.
Stein’s voice grew stronger as she told Cunningham about the activities she can no longer do: fly fishing, gardening, painting, landscape designing. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice and had plans to continue her studies.
Now, she considers her life over. ….MORE