Archive for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hit-and-run driver sentenced to 90 days in jail

March 25, 2008


Hit-and-run driver sentenced

A Lawrence man will serve three months behind bars for his role in a 2006 fatal hit-and-run near downtown Lawrence. Enlarge video

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.


Concernedkansascitizen 10 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm....sounds to me like everyone has figured out that if you do something wrong, you should hire Mr. Bath to get you off....seems to be a pattern going on here.....(search archives for Chris Schmidt....)

seriouscat 10 years, 2 months ago

This guys KILLED someone and RAN FROM THE SCENE and was charged with misdemeanors?!?!?!

This is why people continue to drive drunk like it's no big deal.

Bad call Fairchild! Someone DIED. Shame on you!

Mkh 10 years, 2 months ago

Wow what a sham! I guess there were too many non-violent drug offenders in jail to keep this kid in longer than a measily 90 days. And he isn't even being convicted of a felony? Outrageous! If a Kansas citizen is caught with marijuana twice in his life that person is automoatically a felon, no matter how small the amount or if it's for medical purposes. Yet this kid Kills someone while driving drunk and only gets two misdemenors and 90 days!!! Disgusting.

If if were the victim's family I'd be outraged at this slap on the wrist.

hipper_than_hip 10 years, 2 months ago

Life is cheap in Lawrence. I seem to recall a couple of other fatal accidents that involved ku students and alcohol where the sentence didn't seem to fit the crime.

justthefacts 10 years, 2 months ago

"why is bank robbery considered a more heinous crime than the taking of a human life?"

Good question.

But I think some of the answer may be our value system is skewed. Look at the values imbedded in other decisions made - by lawmakers, judges, individuals - that reflect an ever growing disregard for human life.

It simply is not very popular to value - and protect - human beings. Things are much more precious to our society then are human beings - take a look at most laws, decisions, and personal choices. How we speak to and about others. How lack of civil conduct has become accepted and even common place. How carefully we guard our things and refuse to help the children and elderly in our world. How well we protect our things but not future generations.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

whatupdown 10 years, 2 months ago

So if I step outside blindfolded and shoot bullets around is it only 90 days if I kill someone. Justice in America really is just a drunk old prostitute.

whatupdown 10 years, 2 months ago

The DOJ has a division that investagates courts,cops, and so on, I think I'll send them this story so they have something to choke on with the morning coffee.

Good2go 10 years, 2 months ago

The rabbit killer got 30 days what a farce. That's almost as good as somebody questioning other peoples intelligence and misspelling a word in the same sentence. Life is good.

kansas778 10 years, 2 months ago

Good2go (Anonymous) says:

The rabbit killer got 30 days what a farce. That's almost as good as somebody questioning other peoples intelligence and misspelling a word in the same sentence. Life is good.

Looked more like a typo than a misspelling. Anyway, the people to blame aren't the jury, they are doing their job and if the evidence wasn't there, it wasn't there. Regardless, the people to blame (if blame someone we must) would be the legislature who wrote the sentencing guidelines that could allow only 90 days for such a killing. There was a case in California (People v. Superior Court (Du) 5 Cal. App. 4th 822) where a woman shot a teenage girl in the back of the head, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and got off with only probation. Minimum mandatory sentencing is the way to correct these problems.

mom_of_three 10 years, 2 months ago

Esq2eB - always fun to read what an educated twit writes as well.....

redjayj 10 years, 2 months ago

a few weeks before this tragedy my husband and i were driving down the one way about midnight when a college age person staggered out onto the street. We were sober thank god and my husband avoided him but that could have ended up just as badly. we take iowa home now.

ArmyBrat25 10 years, 2 months ago

Everyone is blaming Judge Fairchild for only giving the defendant 90 days of Jail time. The fact of the matter is, is that Judge Fairchild is limited by his amount of Jail time that he can give to a defendant based on the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines. The Defendant was charged with two misdemeanor counts by the DA's office, which means that Judge Fairchild can only sentence the Defendant what is aloud by the severity of the guilty charges and the Defendant's criminal history. The real incompetence lies with the DA's office for only charging this idiot with two misdemeanor counts.

I'm sure if the DA would have charged Joshua Walton with a more severe charge, then it would be a different story.

Nonsense 10 years, 2 months ago


You have not been following along. The DA's office threw the book at the guy and charged felonies. The jury convicted on misdemeanors. Do your homework before you type.

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