Jailed Drunken Driver To Plead For Sentence Reduction

Sykesville Manseeks Early Release From 3-year Term For 1990 Crash

August 07, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A 21-year-old Sykesville man whose drunken driving killed a Walkersville resident is to ask a Carroll Circuit Court judge to reduce his prison sentence this morning.

Robert Kenneth Sauter, of the 5900 block of Forest Court, pleaded guilty last November to automobile manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

In March, county Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. sentenced Sauter to three years in prison.

Sauter's attorney, Robert Parker of Westminster, filed a motion in June to ask Beck to reduce the sentence. Sauter had served three months of his term.

The charges against Sauter stemmed from a three-car accident on Route 26 that killed 52-year-old Charles Robert Henderson on April 9, 1990.

Sauter, who was20 at the time of the crash, had been drinking with friends at Rewster's Restaurant and Lounge on Ridge Road in Taylorsville for several hours before the accident, court and police records show.

After heleft the bar, Sauter sped eastbound on Route 26 in his 1980 Mazda RX7.

After passing a small truck near Arthur Shipley Road, Sauter swerved onto the right shoulder and then into the westbound lane, slamming head-on into a 1986 Nissan driven by Henderson.

Henderson, whois survived by his wife, Lynn, and one daughter, was killed instantly.

A car driven by Francis W. Sufczinski of Woodbine also was involved in the accident. Neither Sufczinski nor his son, a passenger in the car, was injured.

Sauter does not remember the accident because of extensive head injuries, court documents show.

After the crash, he was flown by state police helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Unit at University Hospital in Baltimore.

Parker said his client's sentence should be reduced because he is a model prisoner and is doing well in an alcohol rehabilitation program.

He is described by his treatment counselors as "a strong and vocal member of the group" who is working with others on the issues surrounding the fatal accident, court documents said.

Sauter "continues to agonize each day over the loss of life" caused by the accident and "feels great compassion and concern for the victim's family," the documents said.

ButSenior Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill said she plans to arguethat Sauter should serve out his full sentence.

Hill said that instead of serving his time in one of the state's prisons, Sauter has been incarcerated at the Sykesville Laundry Camp. She said the camp isa pre-release center for inmates expected to stay 18 months or less.

"He's already been given a break," Hill said.

In court documents, Parker maintains that Sauter now understands the consequences of drinking and driving and will not drink alcohol again.

After the crash, Rewster's Restaurant and Lounge was investigated by the county liquor board on charges that it served liquor to a minor.

In November, the liquor board cleared the bar of all charges because it foundthe testimony of Sauter and three friends to be "fraught with inconsistency and vagueness to such an extent that the board cannot accord it great weight."

Sauter and his friends testified that they had been drinking beer for several hours before going to Rewster's.

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