One by one, family members stood up in the second-floor courtroom inAnnapolis and told a judge how their lives came to a crashing halt after an accident last year on Ritchie Highway killed two children anda grandmother.
They told how Elizabeth Sprinkel, 48, of Severna Park, was in the process of changing her job so she could work part time and be with her grandson, 4-year-old Jordan.
They told the judge how 14-year-old Janine Pomichter's mother hadjust married five days before the accident and was honeymooning in Florida, where she could not be reached until three days after the head-on collision.
And they told a story of recently watching a tape of a surprise birthday party for an aunt made in 1989, and seeing thelaughing faces of Sprinkel, Jordan and Janine, all of whom died because a car driven by Louis Dailey Jr., 30, of Glen Burnie, hit their car while he was under the influence of PCP.
"The tears were already flowing when the camera found Jordan, there to celebrate his grandmother's birthday," said Chuck Mascola, a cousin to the three victims."His eyes, his innocence stared out at us and we cried for our loss."
Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. listened to the families andthen sentenced Dailey to 15 years in prison with five years suspended, meaning Dailey will serve a total of 10 years in jail. As a condition of parole, Dailey must get alcohol and drug counseling and cannotdrive a car.
In 1986, Dailey received probation and was fined $100 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore for driving under the influenceof alcohol. In April 1989 he was placed on probation in Howard County for possession of PCP. In January 1990, he was fined $50 for resisting arrest.
Friday's sentence on the three auto manslaughter charges was described as the toughest ever handed down in Anne Arundel forcharges of auto manslaughter.
Dailey pleaded guilty in February to speeding south on Ritchie Highway last July with his headlights offwhen his car crossed the median at Earleigh Heights Road and hit a northbound Toyota driven by Sprinkel, who along with Jordan, died the night of the crash.
Janine, who was visiting from Connecticut, died two weeks later.
The family, which packed the courtroom, pleadedwith the judge to sentence Dailey to 15 years in jail. Dailey pleaded guilty in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing not to seek more than 15 years in prison. The maximum penality is 30 years.
Judge Thieme, however, cited sentencing guidelines that recommended only a three to seven-year sentence. "Some of the things a family wants me to doI just cannot do," he said. "Just because I'm a judge doesn't mean Ican do what I want to do.
"I'm not a total stranger to this case," Judge Thieme told the family. "I want you to know that my own son was killed by a driver who was drunk. It took some time for me to put all that aside to decide cases fairly."
Deputy State's Attorney William Roessler said he was pleased with the sentence. "It's unusual for Judge Thieme to go over the sentencing guidelines."
The family members who spoke at the hearing all said Dailey has shown no remorsefor his actions. Using harsh language, they scolded him and his family, who filled benches on the other side of the courtroom.
"I hopethat whatever time you serve in jail is hell for you because I trulybelieve that with a past like yours, you will always be the same wayand you will never change," said Antoinette Pomichter Taragowski, Janine's mother. "I feel you will always be a disgrace to society.
"In time your prison and probation term will be over," she said. "But someday you will meet the Almighty, the ultimate judge of what you have done, and you will burn in hell."
Janine's aunt, Eva Esposita, told Dailey that he was a "loaded bullet in a gun. . . I don't believe that God wanted this. I don't believe that it was in the cards. I don't believe there was a reason for this. Life will never be the samefor any of us.
"Whatever happened to 'I'm sorry?' " Esposita asked. "That's what I teach and my sister taught her children to say. We taught them to care about other people. I know my sister would be at your family's door with much concern if this were the other way around."
In a short statement to the court, Dailey apologized for his actions. "I am very, very sorry for what I have done," he said. "I am sorry for my sins and I'm going to ask Jesus Christ to be my friend."