Pittsburg According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Underage Drinking Research Initiative, about 5,000 youth under age 21 die from motor vehicle crashes, or other unintentional injuries, and homicides and suicides that involve underage drinking.
On June 11, 2008, Pittsburg resident Amy Marrs felt those effects as her 17-year-old son, Brandon Erick Engelken-Marrs, was driving home intoxicated from a house party hosted by an individual in Pittsburg.
Just a mile from his home, Brandon’s truck hit a bridge, sending him to the hospital, where he died a week later from injuries suffered in the crash. Now, Amy Marrs is on a mission to change the laws in Kansas, making a stronger penalty for adults that host a house party where someone suffers bodily harm.
On Wednesday, Stephen Akins entered into a plea agreement for the party he hosted that Brandon Marrs attended before his death.
Akins pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of unlawfully hosting a minor while serving alcohol. Akins’ mother, Joan, was also charged and will enter into a plea agreement with the Crawford County Attorney’s office to the charge of aiding and abetting.
Akins was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail, 24 months probation, and 100 hours of community service focusing on speaking to schools and community groups about the dangers of underaged drinking. He also has to write a letter of apology to the Marrs’ family in 90 days and pay a $1,000 fine.
Crawford County Attorney Michael Gayoso said he would like to join the Kansas Attorney General’s office in tougher legislation next year addressing a more strict penalty for those that host house parties where bodily harm is an end result.
While Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton said the laws are already in the books, some have a rationale for hosting a party at their residence.
“We will hear from parents that say they would rather have it and we can control it as opposed to them going to a bar and getting in some fight,” he said. “Will those parents be responsible for making sure that each and every one of those kids get home and stay home?”