Life Begins Anew At Court Sentence
As a victim’s mom, I decided to start life anew after Friday’s sentencing. I wanted to wash this winter’s sludge off my car, clean myself in a scented bubble bath, and drink hot chocolate to relax. The carwash came first. As I headed down MV Highway, I was pulled over, by a Black Diamond cop. He said, “Do you know the speed limit is 35 mph?” I said “yes.” He responded, “Do you know how fast you were going?” I told him it was probably around 45 miles per hour. He replied, “I clocked you at 46. Are you in a hurry?”
“Nope,” I said, “Not in a hurry. I’m excited.” His furrowed brow encouraged me to continue, “I just got out of court. The judge sentenced the 40-year old DUI felon to 50 consecutive years in prison. He killed my son and three others instantly in a car crash and permanently brain injured another. That was two and a half years ago.”
The cop sucked in his breath, “Wow … would it make your day even more exciting if I saved you $200 in exchange for slowing down?” I patted him on the back of his hand at my window and said, “You’re awesome.” He replied, “And you have a great day.”
Exceptional 50.3 Year Sentence Imposed In Historic Court Case
In explaining the imposition of an exceptional sentence upward, Judge Cheryl Carey, said, “The severity exceeds history. We have now witnessed an event that shocked the conscious of first responders. You search for right words. The insults done to the bodies of the five victims shocked and seared the senses.” Judge Carey thus ruled that prior DUI felon Nicholas Anderson spend 50.3 consecutive years in prison for devastating vehicular and human destruction on October 25, 2014: four vehicular homicides, a vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault, reckless endangerment. The victims were Suzanne McCay, 29, Caleb Graham, 23, Andy Tedford, 31, Rehlein Stone, 21, with permanent injury of a fifth victim, James Vaccaro, 23.
Carey’s ruling followed the State Prosecutor Amy Freedheim’s impassioned presentation saying the defendant blamed the victims and continues to blame victims. “It’s offensive. I repeat: It is offensive!”
“There is no evidence, zero evidence, that victims saw Anderson drink. One victim was yelling, slow down, slow down, slow down. This selfish, immature narcissistic adult male, killed four and injured a fifth by himself, and continues to deny it. These families had to bury their children; one will need lifetime care. Given his DUI history, there is no way that he is safe.” The prosecution assistant implored of the judge, “Protect the public as long as possible.”
Anderson had been offered lower sentencing possibilities in the past two and a half years – one half the original (at about 26 years) back in July 2015. “I wouldn’t take the lowered charges because I am not guilty,” Anderson said at sentencing. “I’ve been in jail for 861 days for a crime I did not commit. Now I’m looking at 40 years.” In addressing the judge, Anderson asserted, “Alcohol aversion therapy is the first thing I’m going to do when I get out. So much evidence proves I didn’t do this. Don’t let this miscarriage happen.” And referencing the talks from the audience who shared family memories, Anderson reported, “I had a loss too, my dog Pedro, was killed. Addressing the judge on behalf of her son, Diane Anderson concluded, “He needs treatment, not jail. I don’t think jail is the right answer.”
Anderson’s defense attorney reiterated his client’s not guilty theme, “It’s a horrible tragedy. But that’s not a benchmark of culpability. They (victims) were willing participants, all of whom had sought him out were willing participants in events that led to the deaths. The victims made themselves part of Anderson’s decision. Adjusting the sentence is appropriate.”
The judge referenced a stack of letters from concerned and impacted citizens. She listened to statements from family ranging in age from 12 to grandparents. She watched a video titled “Stolen From Us” that eloquently depicted the five lives lost and broken. Her decision, “This is a violent offense. As to treatment options? The court looks at one’s history. There is no longer a balance. For the safety of community, 50.3 years, an exceptional sentence, is mandatory.”
While family members were shocked and repulsed by Anderson’s statement, “I will always be available to talk to the families,” Judge Carey commanded that Anderson will have no contact with the families for life. He has the right to appeal, he is ineligible to vote, his driver’s license is revoked, and he will have no access to firearms.