Saturday, June 22, 2013
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 departed from the state's sentencing guidelines for the crime. He told the court, based on Theurer's total lack of criminal history, his academic success, and his remorse, he felt the better benefit for society would be a shorter sentence. In the 36 months of probation after his sentence, Theurer must conduct outreach at churches and schools. The hope, the judge said, is Theurer can help prevent a similar drunk driving accident.
The prosecutor has said he will appeal and seek more prison time for Theurer. Neidenthal told WIBW she hopes to see that appeal through because the current sentence does not provide justice.
"He killed two people, he should have to do more than 60 days," Neidenthal said.
Here are futher details reported by our sister station:
A Kansas State University graduate student responsible for a head-on collision that killed an Ogden couple will serve 60 days in the Riley County Jail.
The state requested that Miles Theurer, 24, receive prison time but Judge John Bosh granted departure over the state during Theurer's sentencing hearing Monday, June 17, 2013.
Prosecutors described the case as a night out partying that ended in tragedy for two innocent victims.
Theurer previously entered pleas of no contest to two counts of Involuntary Manslaughter While Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in a plea agreement with the state.
He was arrested at the Riley County Police Department on September 20, 2012 on a Riley County District Court warrant, several months after being involved in the deadly head-on collision.
The accident occurred on Monday, May 14, 2012 on K-18 near Scenic Drive in Riley County, two miles west of the city limits of Manhattan. Due to road construction on the highway, traffic was reduced to two lanes with opposing traffic traveling directly next to each other.
The crash involved two cars- a 2003 Chevy Silverado which was occupied by four people and driven by Theurer and a 2001 Buick LeSabre which was occupied by a couple- 31-year-old Elizabeth Young and 31-year-old Michael Stanley. The engaged couple was from Ogden.
Prosecutors say Theurer's Chevy Silverado truck crossed over the center line and was going the wrong way eastbound in the westbound lanes of K-18. Another passing driver spotted Theurer heading the wrong way in traffic and tried to catch his attention by flashing his lights, honking and waving his arm out of his window.
Assistant Riley County Attorney Wes Garrison says Theurer and his friends spent the night drinking at a strip club in Junction City.
Theurer ended up striking Young's car (that was going west on K-18) head on.
Young, a mother of two, and Stanley, a father of two, died at the scene. Their cause of death was severe trauma they received in the crash. The state says that blood work showed Theurer had a blood alcohol level of .19 at the time of the accident, more than twice the legal limit.
Troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol reconstructed the accident scene during their investigation and once the reports and tests were complete, they presented their findings to the Riley County Attorney's Office, resulting in the warrant and Theurer's arrest four months later.
Kansas State University's website lists Theurer as a graduate PhD student in Veterinary Medicine. Theurer's permanent address is listed in Wellington, Kansas but arrest records list a local address for him in Manhattan.
When Theurer pleaded no contest to his charges, Riley County District Court Judge John Bosch said he faced 3-14 years on each of his charges but Bosch did not stick to the presumed sentence outlined in the Kansas sentencing guidelines, giving Theurer two months in the Riley County Jail and ordering him to speak at schools and churches on the dangers of drunk driving.
Theurer will also serve 36 months probation after getting out of jail.
The Riley County Attorney's Office is filing an appeal of the 60-day sentencing. The Kansas Court of Appeals will ultimately decide whether there was a basis for Bosch's decision to depart from the sentencing guidelines.