This morning I witnessed the sentencing of a young man who, by driving drunk, killed his two best friends who were passengers in the vehicle he was driving. He cried remorsefully to the judge, and then both mothers of his deceased friends spoke to the court. They both pleaded with the judge to be lenient, and to give him community service in lieu of an active jail or prison sentence. One of the mothers suggested that he be required to talk with high school kids in the area about the dangers of drunk driving. There were a lot of tears all around, and it was quite moving to witness this.
In the end, the judge gave him about 2 1/2 years and suspended the sentence, giving him 2 years probation and 200 hours community service. As part of the community service, the judge implemented the suggestion of one of the grieving mothers, that he speak to high school kids about the dangers of drunk driving. Most defendants in this situation have the book thrown at them, and indeed they deserve it for robbing the lives of others because of their own foolish selfishness. But in this case, you could see that the kid was really suffering for what he had done. And the mother’s had lost everything, and this was closure to them. This young man was the best friend to both of their sons. To send him to prison or jail would not have helped anybody. Hopefully he will have an impact on some young kid sitting in a classroom, and a future tragedy will be prevented.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.