Man sentenced in fatal crash

Father gets 18 months in drunken-driving accident that killed his daughter, step-daughter

January 05, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

A Glen Burnie father shouted "It's not fair!" and kicked his chair away yesterday after an Anne Arundel County judge sentenced him to 18 months in jail for a drunken-driving crash that killed two youngsters, one of them his.

At one end of the courtroom, Michael L. Green, 26, wept as a sheriff's deputy prepared to lead him to a holding cell and his lawyer tried to calm him. At the other, his wife -- mother of the two dead children -- sobbed, saying that she is being punished.

She blamed herself for making the telephone call that put Green behind the wheel. She also blamed the other driver, who was issued three traffic tickets.

The prosecutor also left the courtoom dissatisfied, in the unusual case in which police faulted both drivers.

Lawyer David W. Fischer, who is not involved in the case, pointed out that more than one person can be negligent in a crash.

Judge Michael E. Loney sentenced Green to five years, with all but 18 months suspended, for negligent homicide while under the influence of alcohol and related counts. Tierra Green, 5, and her half-sister, Shania Bautista, 1, died in the two-car crash May 16, 2005. Neither was in a car seat or was wearing a seat belt.

Though Green's lawyer sought a minimal sentence or home detention, Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler sought the maximum 13 years. "I did not think [the shorter sentence] was appropriate because of the criminal background of the defendant," Roessler said. That includes robbery and assault convictions, and he intends to pursue a charge that Green violated probation for robbery with this conviction. A probation violation conviction could add up to five years in jail.

Green's wife of six months, Linette Wallace, maintained that Green had changed since those convictions and has nightmares about the crash. Green told the judge that he is not a threat, and in his later outburst shouted that the other driver is still driving.

Green was driving south on Route 648 about 10 p.m. when he tried to turn left onto a ramp to southbound Interstate 97. His blood alcohol level was 0.13 percent, above the 0.08 percent at which a driver is legally presumed intoxicated. His car struck a northbound vehicle driven by Nathaniel Bukovich, 25, of Linthicum, who prosecutors say was driving at least twice the speed limit, between 81 and 87 mph.

Bukovich's court date was postponed because he is out of state in the Army, Roessler said. At Green's trial last month, assistant public defender Karl H. Gordon contended that the speeding contributed to the crash. Bukovich's lawyer, T. Joseph Touhey, said yesterday that Bukovich is innocent of the alleged violations.

After the sentencing, Wallace said that on the night of the crash, she called Green after she was assaulted near a relative's home and he got behind the wheel to come to her aid.

"Everything is falling on me," she cried outside the courthouse. Green took their surviving son, Deonte, 4, to and from preschool, and babysat while she went to work. Wallace said she fears that if Green does not get a work-release job, she will be forced from their apartment, as she was when he was previously jailed. She said Deonte, at her side, "is asking, `Where are they taking my dad?'"

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