From The Northwest Herald [May 15, 2004]
Penalty cut out of order
A drunken driver who killed four people wants his 10-year prison sentence for reckless homicide reduced.
And no way should the courts grant it.
David Malin, 34, of Park Ridge, was drunk – his blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit – when he crossed the center line and crashed his car into a minivan, killing four people.
The tragic collision occurred March 16, 2002, on Route 12 in Richmond. Families in Burlington, Wis., were devastated.
Bruce Thieme, 43, Lynn Thieme, 45, their daughter Stephanie Thieme, 17, and friend Renee Kleeman, 16, were killed. The Thiemes' two other children, Angela and Nicole Thieme, did not accompany them to Las Vegas.
To his credit, Malin pleaded guilty in January and expressed profound regret for the crash. By all accounts, he is a good family man who never had been in trouble. He is married and has two young children. Malin made a horrible mistake when he got drunk and drove away in his car.
As good a man as Malin may be and the hardship the sentence imposes on his family, his appeal should be denied. The gravity of his mistake is too severe for him to get a break, let alone ask.
"Every statement I have heard, whether it was from the prosecution or the defense, was from the heart," said presiding Judge Ward Arnold, who imposed the sentence, which could have been 28 years. "I wish I could hold these sentencings in high schools." No movie or re-enactment could approach what played out in the courtroom.
More than 80 people were in the courtroom, most in support of the Thieme family. Malin's 7-year-old son wrote a letter, pleading for leniency.
Reducing the sentence would show disrespect to the Thieme and Kleeman families, as well as to the memory of the four dead people.
No penalty can salve the wounds of the families.
But to reduce the sentence would be to reopen the wounds and send a message to the public that drunken driving isn't so serious.
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