A judge Monday ordered a 25-year-old man to serve 90 days in jail followed by two years supervised probation after being convicted in a hit-and-run case.
Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild sentenced Joshua Walton, 25, for a 2006 hit-and-run that killed 22-year-old Kansas University student Ryan Kanost. During the February trial, witnesses had testified that Walton had been drinking before he drove off to meet friends.
"This is a tragedy that everybody is going to have to live with the rest of their lives," Fairchild said. "All the court can do is do what I'm allowed to by law and what I feel is the best way to try to achieve the result of preserving safety and making sure to the best of my ability this doesn't happen again."
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson had asked Fairchild to impose the maximum penalty of two years in jail. Walton will serve that sentence if he violates his probation.
A jury convicted Walton of two misdemeanors: vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an injury accident. Prosecutors had sought more severe felony charges.
Kanost's father, Michael Kanost, of Manhattan, in an emotional court speech asked that Walton be given jail time to keep him from driving drunk and to reflect on his actions. He also said Walton should be restricted from driving.
"This pain and sorrow that I know the rest of my family feels was caused by the actions of Joshua Walton," he said.
Two of Kanost's sisters also spoke about the family's difficulties since Kanost was struck Sept. 23, 2006, while he crossed Kentucky Street at 13th Street.
"You killed his kid, my brother, her brother and an uncle of five months at the time, a grandson, a friend, and not only did you kill someone's kid, but you destroyed a family," Leah Kanost said.
Walton told Fairchild he thinks about the tragedy every day and wishes he could go back and erase what happened or change it. He also said he has taken full responsibility.
"The only thing that I can possibly do would be to try to give back as much positive in other areas that I can with the rest of the time that I have here," he said.
Walton's attorney, Tom Bath, said Walton, who is also a KU student and works in Lawrence, likely would serve his three months in jail this summer under an option Fairchild gave him. Walton also has done more community service lately and plans to seek out groups to talk with young students about the dangers of drunken driving.
They also plan to ask the sheriff's office to give Walton work release while he's serving jail time. Fairchild also assessed Walton with court costs.
Bath said Fairchild's sentence was fair.
"We want to make sure that we get a balance, so that he is punished, yet he also gives back," he said.