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Military past affects Erie defendant's sentence for fatal crash

An Erie military veteran recently pleaded guilty to crimes related to a deadly car accident. The 30-year-old man was scarred by combat experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he suffered a brain injury and later, psychotic episodes and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The judge in the fatal accident case considered the defendant's military past when he ordered the man to a "standard" prison term of up to six and a half years. The sentence might have been harsher for someone without an honorable military service history.

The disabled soldier was accused of DUI, misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter and felony aggravated assault. The charges stemmed from a 2012 crash that severely injured a 40-year-old mother of three and killed her boyfriend, a 49-year-old Navy veteran.

Court papers said the defendant was high on multiple substances when his Jeep drifted into the path of an oncoming car's path in Washington Township. Minutes before the accident, the Jeep driver failed to stop after striking a car in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

While in that parking lot, the convicted man inhaled computer cleaner. The driver was already under the influenced of a prescription painkiller and marijuana. Prosecutors noted the defendant was arrested twice before on drug-related charges.

The woman who survived the accident, a firefighter like her late boyfriend, suffered a broken neck. The mother told the sentencing judge that more than a year passed before she could return to work to support her children.

A military record made a significant difference for the defendant. The family of the veteran who died received no extraordinary consideration for the man's unnecessary sacrifice.

Civil courts allow plaintiffs to request compensation from negligent parties. The injured woman could ask for damages to cover medical bills, lost wages and emotional trauma. The family of the veteran who died could seek similar compensation in a

wrongful death claim

for the loss of their loved one.

Source:, "

Erie man to serve up to 6 1/2 years for fatal crash

" Lisa Thompson, May. 28, 2013

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