Prosecutors in Milwaukee and relatives of the victim of a fatal car accident grew frustrated with a court’s decision to delay sentencing in a recent criminal case. The defendant in the hit-and run case pleaded guilty, after causing the death of a college student and hiding from the responsibility for it.
The driver’s sentencing for the auto accident was set for two days after the plea. A judge delayed the sentencing date after the defense attorney claimed he would not be prepared to proceed. Family members and friends of the dead woman had been waiting two-and-a-half years for legal closure.
The 21-year-old college student was with her boyfriend on New Year’s Eve, 2009, headed to the home of the woman’s parents. Another driver was trying to escape police capture. The car he was driving did not have a license plate.
The fleeing driver blew through a red light at North Sherman Boulevard and West Center Street at the same time the couple’s vehicle entered the intersection. The cars collided. The young woman was killed. Her boyfriend was critically hurt. The driver of the car that caused the crash kept going.
The hit-and-run suspect eluded police during a two-week search. Eventually, the defendant turned himself over to authorities.
In January 2010, a court charged the driver with homicide by vehicle and two hit-and-run counts, one for causing a death and the other for inflicting great bodily harm. The defendant pleaded guilty in late May 2012.
The defendant was afraid of the consequences of operating a vehicle without a license plate. The driver’s decision to flee from responsibility cost a woman her life and future. A man was severely injured.
Hardships for accident victims’ loved ones are partially eased by a negligent driver’s conviction and sentencing. Courts cannot restore an injured victim’s health or give back a life that was taken through negligence. However, the law can punish offenders in criminal courts and try to aid grieving survivors through civil actions.