A Lawrence man who pleaded guilty in a fatal hit-and-run case will spend 14 days in jail and be on intensive, supervised parole for two years, a Douglas County judge ruled on Thursday.
Jake Deckert, 22, was arrested after the May 4 crash that killed Thomas Crum, 60. The two men’s vehicles collided at West Sixth Street and Gateway Drive. Crum’s car struck the side of a building at 534 Gateway Drive.
Deckert pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident, driving under the influence of alcohol and violating a stop sign.
Judge Robert Fairchild went along with the terms of a plea agreement reached by Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson and Deckert and his attorney, Terry Campbell.
The DUI charge was added as part of the plea deal. It is Deckert’s second DUI.
Crum’s sons and a daughter spoke before the sentencing, telling Fairchild how difficult it was to listen to the circumstances that resulted in their father’s death.
“This is about cowardice and accountability,” Ryan Crum said as he looked directly at Deckert, who was sitting at a table with his attorney. “Jake left my dad to die.”
Daughter Tammy Wright described Crum as a decent man and expressed a sense of disbelief.
“I do understand that accidents happen, but to leave the scene and have to be tracked down by police, I don’t understand that,” Wright said.
Son Travis Crum said he hoped Deckert never has to experience what he put the Crum family through.
Deckert also has to pay more than $1,000 in fines. If he fails to meet terms of his supervision, Branson said he would seek to have Deckert jailed.
Prosecutors initially filed leaving the scene and failing to report an accident as felonies. In the plea agreement, however, they were switched to misdemeanors. Because of a quirk in Kansas sentencing guidelines, Deckert actually received a harsher penalty with the charges as misdemeanors, Branson said.
As felonies they each carried standard six-month sentences but, based on lack of criminal history in Deckert’s case, they were presumptive probation. As misdemeanors they carry standard one-year sentences.
A second DUI conviction carries a maximum 12-month jail sentence with a requirement to serve at least five days. In Douglas County most sentences for a second DUI have been for the minimum five days, Branson said. He noted that prosecutors had no evidence that Deckert was intoxicated and there would be no conviction without the plea.
After serving 14 days in jail Deckert will have to stay out of trouble during the two-year parole or he will end up back in jail for the full term.
“With this plea we get double the jail time and he’s actually going to jail for awhile,” Branson said.
Deckert didn’t make any comments when given the opportunity to do so by Fairchild. Campbell said he had advised his client not to say anything at this time because of civil lawsuit possibilities.