Killer Drunken Driver Gets 18 Months With Work Release

Victim's Sister Pleads For Stiffer Penalty In June Wreck

May 23, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

Each day David Michael Dawson's wife and children must drive down Mountain Road near Pinehurst Road. It's the only way home.

It's alsowhere David Michael Dawson was killed in a head-on collision with a drunken driver.

That point was made by Dawson's sister, Barbara R. Schultz, who wrote: "The severe and uninterrupted trauma experienced by this daily reminder of Michael's death renders my family unconsolable."

In a letter to Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., she added that a jail sentence including work release for 20-year-old Brian Standiford would be "unconscionable."

Standiford, who in February pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while intoxicated, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in jail -- with work release privileges.

"The reason I'm doing that," Thieme told the 20-year-old defendant, "is there's no reason the taxpayers of this county should have to pay for your incarceration. You'll pay for your incarceration."

Schultz's letter was among nine submitted to the court by friends and relatives of Dawson, a 47-year-old president of a small trucking company, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, a father of two and a grandfather of a boy born after his death. All the letters called for Thieme to be tough with Standiford. All talked glowingly of Dawson, but Schultz's letter revealed the reasons she found his sudden death particularly hard to accept.

"Michael and I were raised by an alcoholic parent, one member of a severely dysfunctional extended family. The irony of the circumstances of his death lacerated childhood wounds which had just recently begun to heal," she wrote. "He taught me how to read, the proper way for a 'lady' to walk and when to stand up for myself. But more importantly than anything else in my life, Michael is the only familymember who was ever able to hug me and tell me that he loved me."

Dawson was killed last June 24 in a head-on collision just 300 yardsfrom his Mountain Road home. At the February hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Eugene M. Whissel II told the court Standiford was driving eastbound on Mountain Road when he crossed the center line and collided with Dawson's car. Police responding to the scene found two nearly empty cans of beer in Standiford's car, Whissel said.

Tests showed Standiford, of the 100 block of Norman Road, Pasadena, had a blood-alcohol level of .133, the prosecutor said. Under state law, a blood-alcohol level of .10 or more is proof of intoxication.

Further tests showed the presence of PCP in Standiford's blood, according to court records.

Standiford and a passenger in his car were injured in the accident, Whissel said.

In asking Thieme to sentence his client to work release, defense attorney Peter S. O'Neill said Standiford was undergoing treatment for an 8-year-old drug and alcohol problem.

When it was his turn to speak, Standiford said, "I'd like to say I'm sorry. I deserve to be punished."

The judge gave him a three-year sentence, with all but 18 months suspended, and placed him on five years' supervised probation upon release.

Under the terms of the probation, Standiford will not be allowed to drive or drink alcohol.

When the hearing was over, Schultz and Dawson's widow, Jan, remained in their seats. They hugged, and Schultz began sobbing. She stopped crying, but the two remained seated, staring at Standiford for at least five minutes.

Then they got up and walked out of the courtroom.

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