Friday, August 29, 2008

You murdered five people? Sure, you can leave prison

Michigan driver who killed 5 Taylor University students in crash to leave prison

A suburban Detroit truck driver convicted in a 2006 crash that killed four Taylor University students and a staff member could be free soon, a newspaper says.

Robert F. Spencer of Wayne County's Canton Township is being released about a year after his sentencing on charges of reckless homicide and criminal recklessness, the News-Times of Hartford City reported.

A coroner misidentified one of the students killed -- Laura VanRyn, 22, of Caledonia, Mich. -- as one of the injured survivors, then-19-year-old Whitney Cerak, of Gaylord, Mich.

An official at Westville Correctional Facility could not confirm Thursday night whether Spencer was being released and said more information would be available Friday morning.

Investigators said Spencer had fallen asleep at the wheel after he had driven at least nine hours more than allowed under federal rules.

Spencer pleaded guilty last year and was given an eight-year prison sentence with four years suspended. (Detroit News link)

So the Cliff's Notes version of the story goes like this...
  • Violate a federal safety standard - check
  • Murder five people, injure several others, cause thousands of dollars worth of damage - check
  • Plead guilty to the crimes - check
  • Receive an eight year prison sentence - check
  • Take a one year, all expenses paid vacation, including meals, cable TV and probably a paying job too - check
  • Walk out of prison after about a year, returning to your life while five people are still dead and families throughout the MidWest have been shattered by your gross criminal negligence - sad, but true.
And people say there is nothing wrong with the American judicial system. Doh!


Anonymous said...

Just CURIOUS, why do you see this incident as MURDER and NOT an accident?


MrDolomite said...

"...why do you see this incident as MURDER and NOT an accident?" - my apologies for playing fast and loose with the legal terminology.

According to the Indy 6 News article, "Robert F. Spencer, 38, could have faced up to 24 years in prison. On May 29 [2007], he pleaded guilty to five counts of reckless homicide and four counts of criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily injury.".

So I guess technically, he is a criminally reckless homicidal felon.

But in my book, if you cause the death of another person, regardless of the legal mumbo-jumbo, you murdered them. Just my 2c.

Anonymous said...

Just remember (sadly!) accidents DO happen. Not in the case you are talking about, but they DO happen. Also...your friends at Wikiepedia (or however you spell it) have interesting info explaining the difference in murder and homicide.