Teen draws 8 years in man's death He threw 5-lb. rock at truck, which then careened into trees

Victim's family outraged

But judge says youth deserves credit for agreeing to guilty plea

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

Apologies weren't enough for the family of Kevin Gallagher, who was killed by a rock thrower last 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 doesn't seem right. It just doesn't seem right, eight years for killing my husband," said Lori Gallagher, the victim's widow.

Mrs. Gallagher said the accident leaves her to raise the couple's 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 on 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, nothing but contempt," 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 from the westbound lanes of 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.

Mrs. Gallagher yesterday recounted 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 defendant's age and criminal history, recommended a term of six years and six months.

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

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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