Rock-throwing teen-ager is given 8-year sentence in man's death Victim's family assails sentence for 17-year-old

February 13, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Apologies weren't enough for the family of Kevin M. Gallagher, who was killed by a rock-thrower in April, and neither was the sentence handed down yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

After telling Mr. Gallagher's widow he was sorry, Jason W. Wyvill, 17, of the 200 block of Lyons Creek Mobile Estates in Lothian was sentenced to eight years in prison.

"It just doesn't seem right, eight years for killing my husband," said Lori Gallagher, the victim's widow and mother of their three children -- Daniel, 9, Wesley, 6, and Dylan, 4.

But Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. said Wyvill's decision to plead guilty to manslaughter and reckless endangerment Dec. 12 helped the victim's family avoid the ordeal of a trial. Wyvill could have been given 10 years.

"I think he deserves some consideration for putting the matter to rest," Judge Thieme said.

The victim's father disagreed, saying Wyvill was given too light a sentence. "I have nothing but contempt for the decision,," said Bernard Gallagher, 74.

On the night of April 3, Wyvill, then 16, was riding in a Chevrolet Corsica driven by William M. Donley of Harwood, according to Assistant State's Attorney Warren W. Davis III.

Wyvill threw rocks at several moving cars that night before targeting Mr. Gallagher's Dodge Dakota shortly before 9:30 p.m., Mr. Davis said.

As Mr. Donley's Chevrolet approached Mr. Gallagher's truck on Bay Front Road in Deale, Wyvill leaned out the passenger-side window and hurled a 5-pound, baseball-sized rock at Mr. Gallagher's truck, Mr. Davis said.

The rock hit the left side of Mr. Gallagher's windshield at head level, Mr. Davis said.

The truck careened off the road into trees near Solomons Island Road.

Mr. Gallagher, 38, of Deale died at the scene.

Yesterday, Mrs. Gallagher re- counted for the judge how she arrived at the accident scene to find numerous fire and rescue workers who were their neighbors. They stood watching her, stunned, not knowing what to say, she said.

"I think it's important to remember that a very good man was killed here and a lot of good people were hurt," she said.

In the days after the accident, police set up roadblocks in the area and questioned more than 1,000 motorists. But Wyvill was not arrested until two months later, when his former girlfriend called police and said the youth told her he threw the rock.

Mr. Davis had asked yesterday for the maximum 10-year term. State sentencing guidelines, which include such factors as the FTC defendant's age and criminal history, recommended a term of six years and six months.

Mr. Donley, 19, is scheduled to be tried March 4 on charges of second-degree murder and reckless endangerment.

Wyvill had been charged as an adult with second-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter as a result of the guilty plea.

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