Advertisement

Archive for Thursday, May 20, 2010

Drunken driver who killed Lawrence woman on bicycle sentenced to 6 months in jail

Family says words cannot describe loss

Joel Hernandez, 22, wipes away tears as he apologizes to the Leek family for his role in the death of their 20-year-old daughter, Rachel Leek, on Oct. 16 as she was riding her bicycle. Hernandez was driving drunk, hit Leek, then fled the scene. He received a sentence of six months in jail followed by one year of probation. Beside him is his attorney, Al Lopes, at the sentencing hearing Thursday in Douglas County District Court.

Joel Hernandez, 22, wipes away tears as he apologizes to the Leek family for his role in the death of their 20-year-old daughter, Rachel Leek, on Oct. 16 as she was riding her bicycle. Hernandez was driving drunk, hit Leek, then fled the scene. He received a sentence of six months in jail followed by one year of probation. Beside him is his attorney, Al Lopes, at the sentencing hearing Thursday in Douglas County District Court.

May 20, 2010

Advertisement

Driver sentenced to jail time

The driver responsible for the death of a woman on her bicycle was given the maximum sentence available for his crimes Thursday. The sentence includes six months in jail, a fine, community service and a year of probation. Enlarge video

Two parents embraced outside a Douglas County courtroom Thursday afternoon: one, a mother whose son was just sentenced to jail.

The other, a father who will never see his daughter again.

Their conversation was private, but the moment even caused court employees to get choked up.

Minutes earlier, a Douglas County District Court judge had sentenced 22-year-old Joel Hernandez to six months in jail for drinking and driving and killing a 20-year-old Lawrence woman in October. The six-month sentence is the maximum allowed by law for a first-time misdemeanor DWI offense.

Hernandez made a tearful apology to the family of Rachel Leek during the sentencing hearing Thursday.

“I’m really sorry for what happened to Miss Leek,” Hernandez said. “I go through what happened every day. It should have never happened, but I can’t change that.”

Hernandez struck and killed Leek as she was riding her bicycle near 10th and Tennessee streets on Oct. 16. He then left the scene.

Hernandez, a former Haskell Indian Nations University student and a Lawrence High graduate, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, after reaching a deal with prosecutors in April.

Hernandez will be on probation for one year after his release from jail.

Judge Michael Malone also ordered Hernandez to complete 200 hours of community service and to pay a $500 fine.

Malone said he hoped the jail time would serve as a deterrent to Hernandez and anyone else considering getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“You’re going to live with her death for the rest of your life,” Malone told Hernandez.

Leek’s father, sister and other relatives were in the courtroom, but did not address the judge.

Assistant District Attorney James McCabria said Leek’s father summed up the family’s feelings in a one-sentence statement he wrote on a form sent out by the court.

“We cannot express the loss of our daughter in words,” James Leek wrote.

Hernandez’s attorney, Al Lopes, said his client felt awful about leaving the scene. It’s unknown whether the outcome would have been different had Leek received medical help sooner.

“It’s eating at him,” Lopes said. “He’s more remorseful that he left the scene of an accident and let her die on the streets of Lawrence, Kansas.”

Lopes said from this point forward, Hernandez will be living a life for two people.

“He’s living his life, and a life for Rachel,” Lopes said. “He has an obligation to sit down and talk about how a bad thing can happen to a good person.”

Comments

musbhiorlo 3 years, 10 months ago

It is tragic all the way around.

Please drinkers, do not drive while drunk.

Please bicyclists, do not ride your bikes at night without lights and reflectors.

0

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

I think the best lesson to take away from this tragic event is that everyone should be more careful.

Young people in particular seem less and less inclined to simply pay attention to what they're doing, and more interested in texting/playing games/etc. while walking/driving.

Bikers should be more careful about not assuming drivers will see them and stop. Drivers should be more careful. Pedestrians should be more careful.

Everyone should reconsider the notion that it's a good idea to go out and drink a lot.

0

Jaylee 3 years, 11 months ago

I've been hit on my bike on Tennessee before and just lost my car there 2 weeks ago. High volume of people in a crowded space makes for tragic situations with terrible ease.

0

jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

I'd rather prevent these sorts of tragedies than punish people afterwards, if it's at all possible.

0

2002 3 years, 11 months ago

Even if you believe everything in the article: he is remorseful, he feels awful he left the seen, he wants to tell others not to do the same, he'll live with what he did forever and so on, six months in jail is a testament to inadequate laws in Kansas. It just isn't enough. I don't think five years is enough, but it would be closer to reasonable.

As for jail not being a deterrent, who cares if it is or isn't. It's a punishment!!! That is what jail always is, a punishment. To some a deterrent and to some not, still you pay a price for your actions.

0

izzybear 3 years, 11 months ago

6 months what a f**king joke the man should have gotten 25 years what is so wrong where the system locks people up for 5 to 10 times that amount for fighting this man killed a young woman since when is life worth 6 months $500 and 200 hours com. service. some have said that it needs to change at the government level horse crap it can change right here we control who the DA is toss his ass out of office and elect someone who is not going to allow his office to plea killers down to a 1st time dui misdemeaner elect judges who won't accept those kind of pleas itis in our hands people. this man should also never be allowed to drive again. why? some say easy if you shoot someone you lose the privilage of owning or useing guns this man used a car and murdered her with it she will never have kids she will never marry she will never experience life. this man will, like nothing ever happened where is the deterant? where is her and her family's justice. to the family my heart goes out to you.

0

Deb Engstrom 3 years, 11 months ago

Even though it was a very long time ago, I was young once. I did some really stupid things including driving under the influence. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Many mornings, I thanked God that I made it home safely along with all the other people I came in contact with, known and unknown. I don't understand how having joel spend more time in jail makes the situation any different for Rachel's family. Jail/prison time is not a deterrent for most -- it just makes the vindictive folks in society feel better.

0

thuja 3 years, 11 months ago

Our world is so so f*cked in so many ways it makes me want to puke sometimes.

0

Candide 3 years, 11 months ago

waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh

0

ksbicyclist 3 years, 11 months ago

The sentence this guy received is a joke. My condolences to the family for their lose & for having to endure this trial & then be insulted with the sentence.

0

Sigmund 3 years, 11 months ago

jayhawklawrence (anonymous) says… "So you have a young man, driving in Lawrence, who had been drinking and did not see a bike rider on Tennessee in the middle of the night. I think any reasonable person has to have some pity for this young man even though this was a terrible tragedy. I think we should pray for this young man."

College party town or not, I have no sympathy for a drunk driver who runs down a person walking, driving, or biking and then leaves her to die while the POS hides from the cops. I have nothing but contempt for him and I suggest you raise the standards you have for describing someone as a "man."

0

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 11 months ago

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this accident occurred on Tennessee which is a one way street heading south.

I have ridden my bicycle a lot through this area and I know how dangerous it is and I am aware of the many fatalities over the years on this road. It is far too dangerous to ride a bike on this street or Kentucky even in the daytime. I mentioned this on this blog about a year ago and begged people not to ride their bikes on these streets. It is too dangerous.

This accident occurred sometime around midnight or later I think.

So you have a young man, driving in Lawrence, who had been drinking and did not see a bike rider on Tennessee in the middle of the night.

I think any reasonable person has to have some pity for this young man even though this was a terrible tragedy. I think we should pray for this young man.

You should not drink and drive but this is a college town. Young people are sometimes going to drink and drive home. We tried Prohibition and it did not work. I doubt if very many people on this blog have not done the same thing at one time in their life.

Do not ride bicycles on these streets, especially in the middle of the night. It is too dangerous. If you are new to Lawrence, please be aware that these streets have claimed lives too many times.

We lost a wonderful young girl.

I don't want to see this happen again. Beating up this young man more than he has already beaten up himself is not going to help anyone and threatening the judge is just stupid.

0

Sigmund 3 years, 11 months ago

jafs (anonymous) replies… "If they had charged him with involuntary manslaughter while DUI they couldn't have proven it, since he fled the scene."

Not true, it would be difficult but not impossible. The DA could have prosecuted Involuntary Manslaughter ( "under the influence of alcohol to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle") even if they might have a hard time proving it beyond a reasonable doubt. Still by forcing the driver to defend with the associated expense and stress of public trial, and at least the possibility of conviction, the DA is in a stronger position and might have worked a better deal getting 38 months with a guilty plea to Involuntary Manslaughter.

Sure it is a lot of work and there is a risk the driver might walk, but six month is a insult and only will encourage others similarly situated to flee leaving even more victims to lay dying in our streets. Sometimes you have to do the hard work even if there is a chance of losing because to do anything else is unconscionable. But presenting cases that aren't a slam dunk takes political and professional courage which is something Branson's office has rarely demonstrated.

0

vhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

orhs1963: the family of the Douglas County Deputy Sheriff who was killed riding his bicycle made the choice not to press charges on the driver. RIP Dave.

0

daman 3 years, 11 months ago

I would like to know how this story has fallen off the main page and now is wallowing in "more stories" section when there is obviously a lot of people who have something to say about our judicial system. Did someone request this story get pushed to "more stories"? I doubt I will get a response from LJW and if I do it better not be some sort of natural rotation of stories b.s. because I've seen some really lame stories stick to the main page for two days. This story had over one hundred blogs, finally something worthy of talking about and you bury it. COVER UP

0

daman 3 years, 11 months ago

Jafs,
Who did you speak with in the DA's office? When I called, they wouldn't give me Branson or any attorney on the case. I did learn through the grapevine, that there were five or six witnesses to the defendant being drunk. If they couldn't prove the DUI how did they get him to plead to it? What did they originally charge him with? Something stinks here. I will bet they charged him with some sort of homicide to look tough at the when there was a lot of attention drawn to the case and then plead it down when the dust settled. That seems to be Branson's M.O. I don't like it.

0

Ray Parker 3 years, 11 months ago

No justice here. This is not just a first-time DWI, this is DWI, reckless endangerment, vehicular homicide, fleeing the scene, and probably other crimes not mentioned in court. This sentence is not justice for a young woman now dead, for her grieving family and friends, because of this deliberate recklessness, and lack of enough moral character to render aid or call for assistance for the dying victim. Fire Assistant District Attorney James McCabria for failure to protect us from deadly drunken drivers that will in all probability drink and kill again. I suppose our only hope to be reasonably safe on the streets is that Mr. Hernandez will be his own dead victim in his next drunk driving incident.

0

lawdog 3 years, 11 months ago

He's crying 'tears of joy' for ONLY receiving a 6 month sentence!!! I am totally without words right now. I hope that Rachel's family goes after anything they can get legally!

0

demonfury 3 years, 11 months ago

Headline in Kansas City Star today: 21 years given to 21-year-old for sucker punching woman.....

This guy in KC got 21 years for breaking a lady's jaw, and Hernandez here gets 6 months for running over a woman while drunk and leaving her to die. WTF Douglas County DA ????????

0

TrooGrit 3 years, 11 months ago

I surely hope all you "would be" DA's out there would run for the office. I know that none of you is qualified, but by all means, don't let that stop you. Then when something like this happens again, and you attempt to convict without damning evidence, and the perp goes free, let's see how long you last as a DA. Pretty easy to monday morning quarterback, but since the perp RAN there is no evidence.

daman, since you feel so strongly, do call Branson's office. Do run for DA, if you feel you can do better.

I'm telling you, the laws concerning "not stopping to render aid, and comfort" need to be changed to make it a felony. Keep on with your fantasy that this is somehow a failing on the part of the DA, if you must. Once a person flees after an accident, 9 times out of 10, the ability to convict for manslaughter flees right along with it.

0

daman 3 years, 11 months ago

Some of you just dont get it. This is not a problem with the law or the judge. The problem is with our DA. The defendant was convicted of DUI (1st) and leaving the scene of an accident. The law is fine, 6 months for a DUI, that's the standard fare. The problem is the DA let this guy go on the homicide. It's as if no one was killed. Had the DA done his job and tried this defendant on the homicide, the law and the judge would have been able to incarcerate him for years (4-12 depending on his criminal history), but Branson once again put the judge in an impossible position by letting him plea to the DUI ONLY. So, don't get on the judge or the law, get on your DA for letting this guy off with ONLY a DUI and leaving the scene of an accident as if no one died. Call the DA's office yourself and ask to speak with him. He is elected by us and should answer directly to us, especially given the gravity of this case and his failure to do his job. However, I will bet you anything you don't anywhere near talking to him. I know he reads this stuff so, Mr. Branson, SHAME ON YOU!!!!! I will NOT vote for you again. You have shown me time and time again that you are no prosecutor, you are nothing more than a politician.

0

Amesmb 3 years, 11 months ago

Normally I'd agree with you, but it would've been hard to prove his drunken state since he fled the scene. THIS is what they should've slapped him with: http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteFile.do?number=/21-3404.html

0

MyName 3 years, 11 months ago

This is the statute they should have used: http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=11806 . It's on the books, but they still need the prosecution to at least try and do their job here.

The real question is, why didn't they? Six months and $500 is not enough, even for someone who has a clean record. This is the same penalty he could have gotten if he had just been stopped by a police officer and not hit anything.

0

TrooGrit 3 years, 11 months ago

Are you people not reading the other posts? This guy fled, he left the scene! This did not allow for: 1. Any skid mark measurements 2. Inspection of the vehicle's bumper or side panels to determine point of impact. 3. Field sobriety test. 4. DNA evidence collection

I could go on, but you get the idea! There is no evidence that our D.A. could go forward with. The sad sad fact of the matter is, Joel came forward and admitted to the DUI, or they wouldn't have even been able to charge him with that!

I took action on this, I wrote to my two representatives, Sloan and Holland. I've already heard back from Tom Holland, and he indicates that he will put this in his legislation to introduce file when the legislature reconvenes in January. I strongly suggest you do the same, or else it is just hand-wringing, and Lord knows there is too much of that already around here!! Do something, get involved!

0

Richard Payton 3 years, 11 months ago

I suggest joining Mothers Agaisnt Drunk Driving. This group has fought to make sentencing guidelines stricter for the drunk driver. Write your state legislature at kslegislature.org. Let your voice be heard.

0

Emily Hadley 3 years, 11 months ago

This was no misdemeanor DWI.

"Second degree murder can also be charged in instances where the killing was unintentional but reckless under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

The sentencing guidelines provide a range of sentence from a minimum of 147 months imprisonment to a maximum prison term of 653 months on an intentional killing, and a range of 109 months to a maximum of 493 months on an unintentional but reckless killing."

0

sputum 3 years, 11 months ago

The message that a twisted mind would get from this sentence is that you should not use a gun if you want to kill someone. You should just get really drunk and run over them with your car? People get stiffer sentences for putting a cat on the BBQ grill (actually happened a while back) than this guy got for killing a human being. The law definitely does not administer punishment to fit the crime.

0

truthbtold 3 years, 11 months ago

You know i went threw and read everyones comments and the only one that made me sick was from trueapricot, are you a idiot?????? If you think what your saying has any sense to it your sadly mistaken..Let me guess you must be related to this scumbag..I will tell you this i will never shop at dillions again, i hope you will walk this town with this guy holding his hand cause alot of people are targeting him and will forever, be lucky it wasnt one of my children cause it would not have ended like this......

0

Lenette Hamm 3 years, 11 months ago

What? The maximum sentence is based on a first-time DWI charge, and not on murder AND leaving the scene???? Good gawd, what is wrong with the laws? Don't EVEN get me started on the marijuana busts... can't wait to see the stiff penalties there! Mr. Leeks daughter is gone, and the pain he and his family must be dealing with is incomprehensible to me. Mr. Hernandez' family will have him back in 6 months. Maybe, just maybe this is a wake up call for him, but doubtful that anyone else will think twice about drinking and driving. Sadness abounds...

0

jfmrn 3 years, 11 months ago

I couldn't let this one go by without a comment. He serves six months, the family of the victim is serving a lifetime sentence without their loved one. Where is the justice in this case ???? My only daughter was killed by a drunk driver nearly 25 years ago and a day never goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. Please don't drink and drive !!!!

0

Richard Payton 3 years, 11 months ago

The judges sentence doesn't upset me as much as the DA's plea bargain does. The Judge gave him the max allowed by law.

0

Paul R Getto 3 years, 11 months ago

"Why the hell does he only get 6 #%^#$% months!!!! bullsh!t! " === Because it's the current law?

0

daman 3 years, 11 months ago

The fact this guy got six months is NOT on the judge, he did all he could do under the law. The problem is with the DA. This guy killed someone while drinking and driving. He was was NOT convicted for the death of young lady. He was convicted of a DUI and leaving the scene. Why didn't the DA hold him accountable for this girl's death? This is a slap in the face to the family and our community. What message has the DA sent, get drunk, kill someone and we'll just go after for you on the DUI and we'll let you slide on the death of a innocent person? Hey Mr. DA, do your job and fight for victims instead of passing the buck to the judges. You claim in your campaign to care about victims and our community, lord knows you sure spend a lot of time glad handing people and talking the talk, how about you get into the darn courtroom and do your job and start walking the walk, or step aside and let a real prosecutor in there.

0

ClaroAtaxia 3 years, 11 months ago

6 months!!!!!! Why the hell does he only get 6 #%^#$% months!!!! BULLSH!T!

0

Tab 3 years, 11 months ago

I am finding it hard to even believe this sentence.....does anyone wonder why one might take the law into their own hands?? If my child had been the victim, I think the sentence would have sent me over the edge of reason and sanity.

0

redmoonrising 3 years, 11 months ago

"The six-month sentence is the maximum allowed by law for a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense." We may not like or agree with it but it's the law as written. This is something only our legislators can change, not the judges whose hands are tied by these sentencing rules. Apparently none of Mr. Hernandez' other actions resulted in a charge or he was allowed to plead down to this one (DA not judge). If one poster was sentenced to 15 months with a much larger fine, you have to wonder if this was his first DUI charge?

0

sciencegeek 3 years, 11 months ago

NOTE TO ALL KANSAS DRIVERS:

If you CHOOSE to drink and drive--and it is a choice--and you hit someone or something, be sure to leave the scene. If you stick around, you could be charged with something serious, like vehicular homicide. If you run, you'll only get leaving the scene. Then you can cry crocodile tears in court, get off easy, and brag about beating the system on a barstool when you get out, and drive home drunk again. Just like the drunk who killed my stepson.

Know why the Legislature won't increase penalties? Because there's no money in it. And because so many of them drink and drive themselves. Especially when lobbyists are buying the drinks.

0

Paul R Getto 3 years, 11 months ago

The comments above about the sentencing guidelines are the most pertinent in this sad, tragic affair. If the public really wants to lock up everyone who drives drunk and kills someone, that may be appropriate. Prisons, like schools and social services, are underfunded. Are the same people who want less spending and lower taxes accounting for how this 'investment' in prisons will pay off for society? Sympathies to the family who must live with this forever, as will the drunk who crashed into the young women.

0

mcvey 3 years, 11 months ago

“He’s living his life, and a life for Rachel,” Lopes said. “He has an obligation to sit down and talk about how a bad thing can happen to a good person.”

The only part of this statement that could possibly be true is that Rachel Leek was indeed a good person.

0

demonfury 3 years, 11 months ago

All of this is truly remarkable. A man who willingly drives drunk, hits a girl on a bike, and flees the scene while she dies, gets 6 months in jail (not prison where he becomes someone's new cell bitch), and a $500 fine, should be required to serve a minimum of 50 years to life, in exchange for the life he knowlingly took. Vehicular homicide, Manslaughter, or even Involuntary Manslaughter would have been appropriate for this guy. Malone could have given him over 14 years in prison if he were just charged with Involuntary Manslaughter. This is not Malone's fault. The DA failed the people so badly on this one. He should have prosecuted this as a multiple count felony at the very least. If killing a person with you car while drunk is a misdemeanor, then we are in serious, serious trouble. You can bet your ass I will be voting against him in the next election cycle. The only good thing to come of this is that this worthless scum drunk won't be staying in Lawrence when he's released. If he is that stupid, I can only imagine that it won't take too long for a major retaliation to occur against him. It makes me sick to hear people say that he will have to live with this for the rest of his life. I say, how about considering the innocent girl who's life is over because of this maggot?

0

ou812mr2 3 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

barrypenders 3 years, 11 months ago

Why are people upset? A 'Lawbreaker' is given another chance to be a productive part of Larryville.

'Diversity' among 'Judges' makes Larryville strong.

Stimulus, Hope And Change, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all

0

TrooGrit 3 years, 11 months ago

Sigmund is exactly right. This POS did flee from the scene of a crime. Leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor. No field sobriety, no investigation of car/bumper proximity to bicycle, no nothing. Write your friggen respresentative, and tell them it needs to be a felony, at the very least, to leave the scene of an accident. Period. I agree this sucks bowling balls, the 6 month sentence, I mean, but it was all the DA and judge could do without massive appeals. Sigmund makes the argument that the DA could have prosecuted more vigorously, but by the time Joel turned himself in, most of the evidence of manslaughter was gone! Let's address the root cause here, people, and make it a felony to leave the scene of an accident, as it should be. Particularly one where injuries are involved. Get off this blog and write your representative, and demand a fairer law, in this regard. Then you will have done something other than wring your hands!

0

Sigmund 3 years, 11 months ago

21-3442. Involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the unintentional killing of a human being committed in the commission of, or attempt to commit, or flight from an act described in K.S.A. 8-1567 and amendments thereto. Involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a severity level 4, person felony. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteFile.do?number=/21-3442.html

8-1567. Driving under influence of alcohol or drugs; blood alcohol concentration; penalties. (a) No person shall operate or attempt to operate any vehicle within this state while: (1) The alcohol concentration in the person's blood or breath as shown by any competent evidence, including other competent evidence, as defined in paragraph (1) of subsection (f) of K.S.A. 8-1013, and amendments thereto, is .08 or more; (2) the alcohol concentration in the person's blood or breath, as measured within two hours of the time of operating or attempting to operate a vehicle, is .08 or more; (3) under the influence of alcohol to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle; (4) under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle; or (5) under the influence of a combination of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=2050

The sentencing guidelines for Involuntary Manslaughter provide for a range from 38 months to a maximum prison term of 172 months. http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/da/pdf_files/sentgrid.pdf

By fleeing the scene of the accident this POS effectively cut years off of his sentence by killing and leaving his victim to die in her own blood alone on a dark street. The DA could have prosecuted Involuntary Manslaughter but would have had a hard time proving it beyond a reasonable doubt without a blood test.Still by forcing the defendant into the expense, stress of publicly testifying, and possible conviction at trial they might have worked a better plea by agreeing to 38 months with a guilty plea to Involuntary Manslaughter.

But hey that is a lot of work for a busy DA and she was just a student after all. So until the DA decides to work the hard cases where the drunk driver flees the scene, let the blood and carnage continue to flow on the streets of Lawrence, College Party Town, Kansas.

0

Ward 3 years, 11 months ago

Will $500 buy another six months to make the measly sentence a paltry one year long?

0

afraidnot 3 years, 11 months ago

Seriously people, read the article. The defendant took a plea and the judge sentenced him within the sentencing guidelines. If you're going to rag on anyone, it should be the prosecutor who arranged the plea, not the judge.

0

mcvey 3 years, 11 months ago

After viewing Joel's MySpace page it looks like he's having a pretty swell life. http://www.myspace.com/joel.hernandez

0

cletus26 3 years, 11 months ago

too light of a sentence. For one he was drunk while driving; violation. 2nd he hit and ran; violation. 3rd the girl died; what-shame. 4th he was drunk while driving. and 1 and 4 can be repeated. that should have gave him like 180 months and a 100% increase on that fine; we are talking about death because of this drunken-cry-baby.

0

bbxs 3 years, 11 months ago

it wasn't just a DUI though. he hilled a human after he decided to get into a car drunk. shouldnt killing a person, even by "accident", have a more hash punishment? 6 months jail, 1 year probation, $500... really, thats it?

0

edjayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

thebcman 3 years, 11 months ago

"The felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death is a presumed probation offense."

if that's the case, why hasn't somebody "accidentally" mowed down the Phelps clan yet? Damn. Meant to hit the brakes. Oh well.

0

jreid 3 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps it wasn't clear in my story, Judge Malone handed down the maximum sentence he could by law. The maximum sentence for a first-time dui is 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. The felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death is a presumed probation offense.

Janet Reid Crime & Courts Reporter

0

Thats_messed_up 3 years, 11 months ago

Liberal judges elected by liberal hippies.

0

pizzapete 3 years, 11 months ago

Unbelievable, 6 months is no time at all. This is just wrong in so many ways.

0

MasterShake 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't get it? What was he charged with? Should it not have been Involuntary Manslaughter?

http://www.ksdot.org/burtrafficsaf/alcdriv/duilaws.asp

INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER The Kansas Legislature passed stiffer penalties effective July 1, 1996, for those convicted of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence. If sentenced under this law, you will likely receive imprisonment, ranging from 38 to 172 months. A new law passed in 2001 amends the criminal history classification law dealing with the crime of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to provide that a prior DUI violation of another state's law of a city ordinance or county resolution shall count for criminal history purposes as a person felony.

Why is the DA cutting a deal like this?

0

rcr 3 years, 11 months ago

Remember Judge Michael Malone come election day. Do not retain a Judge that gives a six month sentence and a $500 fine for cold blooded murder.

0

papakeno 3 years, 11 months ago

We'll start with his friends.

0

OonlyBonly 3 years, 11 months ago

The laws in Kansas are a farce! Eride is correct it's time to let the legislature know we're "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore."

0

macon47 3 years, 11 months ago

since eride is scolding every one

wasnt eride the turkey that rat finked on all the folks that didnt get the snow shoveled off thier walks so he could take a jog,

talk about a jerk telling us what is wrong with the world

eride you are the original gutless wonder

0

Eride 3 years, 11 months ago

Instead of blaming the judge who has no control over the elements of a crime, the burden of meeting them or the penalty for committing them… blame the legislature who actually exercises control or better blame yourselves for not exercising responsibility for the political process.

Instead of whining on this forum about how this judge let him off easy WRITE YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE and ask them to support a bill making it easier to prosecute (and to increase the penalties) for driving while intoxicated and fleeing the scene.

Maybe if even half of you dimwits bothered to even vote in our state elections the stuff you whine constantly about on this forums would be resolved. This girl died and this man was prosecuted to the extent of our current laws. Why don't you look into the mirror before sitting there and doing nothing besides whining.

0

macon47 3 years, 11 months ago

i agree it isnt the judge, he is just following the rules set by the looney grass root liberals

0

Amy Heeter 3 years, 11 months ago

This sentence is not a deterrent to anything, no one learned a lesson, especially the defendant. My sympathies to the Leek family. Justice was not served.

0

puddleglum 3 years, 11 months ago

maybe the deal is complicated-but too me, this is a total joke. a not-funny joke. ick.

0

Pywacket 3 years, 11 months ago

Just think--if he had had pot or K2 in the car, he would've had the book thrown at him for that.

WTF?!

0

Slowponder 3 years, 11 months ago

There is nothing wrong with the judge in this case. The 'problem' is the legislature passing a statute that treats a categorical crime - misdemeanor manslaughter - the commission of a misdemeanor, in this case, DUI, that results in the death of a person, so lightly, as what its categorical name says, as a misdemeanor. If you are angry about this, then direct your ire properly at the legislature. They write the laws and set the penalty for crimes. If J. Malone had thrown the book at him and given him the sentence suggested by some here, the defendant would have had an easy appeal and would have won.

How many letters, emails and visits have you made to your legislators about this case?

0

audibleangel 3 years, 11 months ago

God Bless America... HA!!! I cannot believe this.......

0

lllwll 3 years, 11 months ago

This liberal mecca in Lawrence will forget every decision made by a judge when it is time to retain them or oust them when it is time to vote.

Drive drunk, leave. Rape: it was her fault.

Wake up people.

0

samowen 3 years, 11 months ago

Those of us who have been following the story closely for the past several months and who knew Rachel knew that this type of lenient punishment was coming, so sad. As many have said, there will never be justice for Rachel or her family here. The statements made by the culpable parties that night, and even Joel's inability to accept responsibility and express sympathy for HIS OWN ACTIONS today, (re: "for what happened to"), are further evidence of this.

As someone who has left Lawrence since this accident happened, but who regularly rode my bicycle at all hours of the day and night and all over the city as was my right to do (it is NO ONE's right to drink and drive), this is a sad way to remember a town I really loved. My heart breaks reading James' words.

With love to the intelligent 1/2 of Lawrence, Rachel's family and friends, -me.

0

jackpot 3 years, 11 months ago

Fact is if the judge wants to they don't have to follow the deal made.

0

sierraclub 3 years, 11 months ago

Did you people not read the part where he reached a deal with prosecutors in April? I agree, the judge should have said that the deal was not justice. But, the prosecutors make the deal and the judge just follows what they suggest. Who were the prosecutors?

0

Irenaku 3 years, 11 months ago

What?!?!? 6 months?!? orhs, I agree completely. That judge seriously needs to step down. What a shame for the Leek family and for her friends and boyfriend.

0

Corey Keizer 3 years, 11 months ago

orhs1963... It's not just Kansas that has different standards for Killing a person while driving, it's the whole country that holds that different standard. If a driver "Accidentally" hit someone and it kills them it's still just considered an Accident, and not REALLY the drivers fault. It doesn't matter if you were texting, reaching for chap-stick on the floor of the passenger side of your car, discipline your child, or being under the influence. Any of those actions which all impair your ability to drive create an "Accidental" situation. Truth is this: it's not until you can prove that a motorist acted in Malice that the "Accidental" stigma is removed, and even when it's in Malice you'll still only get 5 years....

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/cyclist-sentenced.html.

And that's in California, where it's all Liberals and tree hugging bike riding hippies... right?

0

edjayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU have to be kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is UNBELIEVABLE. Why wasn't he convicted of vehicular manslaughter?

0

kernal 3 years, 11 months ago

Used to be drunk drivers did not get jail time. In the early '60's my dad's uncle was killed by a drunk driver on a Christmas Eve morning while walking his dog. The driver only spent the night of his arrest in jail. I think he got 6 mos. probation & was required to go to AA meetings. After I grew up, my parents told me that man never drank again. At least there was that. And of course his wife being the person that she was, forgave the driver.

0

catfishturkeyhunter 3 years, 11 months ago

Man, they threw the book at him didn't they.... $500 doesn't even begin to cover the funeral expenses let alone the punitive damages the family should be paid for loss of their loved one due to some beligerant idiot. Also where did that judge get his degree, the Dollar Store? You got to be a complete moron to let someone walk on a deal like that. 6 months is a slap on the wrist. Justice has not been served!

0

mr_right_wing 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow...she's dead and he loses probably less than half a year of his life.

At least we know what the guy looks like, so we can openly spit on him when they probably let him out after 3 months.

I'll say this again; the worst thing about drunk driving is 99% of the time the wrong person ends up dead.

1

HogJiver 3 years, 11 months ago

THIS IS WRONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Judge should get 10 years for this sentence.

0

orhs1963 3 years, 11 months ago

If Joel Hernandez would have texting & driving and killed a Douglas County Deputy Sheriff he would not be in jail for six months. Kansas has different standards for "killing a person" while operating a motor vehicle.

Yep, 6 months or 6 years and a million dollar fine will not make any difference to Rachel Leek and her family. But somewhere there needs to be justice when a person life is taken due to a total inappropriate driver.

0

harleyrydyr 3 years, 11 months ago

I am sitting here thinking about seeing Rachel and my daughter leaving the house to go trick or treating, her little sleepy face on the weekend after the girls tried to stay up for the whole night and maybe made it until 2 am. I have so many emotions going thru me right now I dont know whether to be mad or just enjoy the time that Rachel made me smile and hope her family can now find some comfort in her death, I for one am lucky for the time that I did know her. Rich McCoy

0

Ace_Ventura 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow, this dude is lucky. I hope he gets what he really deserves in jail. I can see if it wasnt his fault. But clearly it was. He will have it coming to him. Good luck....

0

DAHAWKMAN 3 years, 11 months ago

that really is some bullSh#$% I got a DUI and didnt even kill anyone and was sentenced to 15 months in the county jail! with a $3600 fine. Now thats a deterrent! Wish i had that messed up judge! Drinking and driving is a seriuos offense and that judgement was as week as it gets. I think thats what a 3rd DUI OFFENDER recieves if I'm not mistaken.

0

macon47 3 years, 11 months ago

why should he be penalized more than a ku student? why whould he get 20 years, when the other drunk got a weekend in jail?? what about accepting that responsibility??

0

EasyTiger 3 years, 11 months ago

"Malone said he hoped the jail time would serve as a deterrent to Hernandez and anyone else considering getting behind the wheel after drinking."

FAIL.

0

thebcman 3 years, 11 months ago

should have been 20 years and a million dollar fine. there is no justice in this world.

0

Keith 3 years, 11 months ago

“I’m really sorry for what happened to Miss Leek,” Hernandez said.

He's still not taking responsibility. What happened? A man would have said "what I did to Miss Leek."

0

macon47 3 years, 11 months ago

if he had of been a ku student he would only have gotten a weekend in jail rock chalk go ku

0

Kathy Getto 3 years, 11 months ago

This is all very sad. I hope the comments on this one are being watched closely.

0

Richard Payton 3 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 11 months ago

It would have been more informative if the precise charges/counts were included in the article.

0

Deja Coffin 3 years, 11 months ago

This isn't the first time someone has gotten a light sentence for a hit in run that resulted in a death in Lawrence. Why aren't they getting more time? I'm sure this kid is sorry but it's a human life. Not an animal, damaged building, or another vehicle.... these are living breathing people whose families are left with unimaginable heartbreak and loss all because someone wasn't paying attention.... or didn't care to make sure the other person was alright. You cannot put a price on a human life but 6 months is a slap in the face of those who love the victim. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

0

jayhawkgrandma 3 years, 11 months ago

What about the other people in the car when the girl was hit?

0

smitty 3 years, 11 months ago

What came to mind immediately upon reading about the tearful apology was the totally shattered windshield, the reports of the passengers in the car comments, the next party they went to, and how long it took for him to be arrested and charged.

Malone, this reminds me of the assist in the cover up(failure to do your assigned duties) you gave when you were the administrative judge when Sevier got killed. Pay backs are hell.

Again you failed horribly by this weak deterrent to Hernandez and anyone else considering getting behind the wheel after drinking due to this light sentence for willfully running while drunk.

Voters, you are the ones who can vote out a judge.

0

parrothead8 3 years, 11 months ago

Six months for taking a human life? While no sentence could have soothed the pain the Leek family feels over the loss of their daughter, six months must seem like a cruel joke to them.

0

TheBigW 3 years, 11 months ago

(quote) Malone said he hoped the jail time would serve as a deterrent to Hernandez and anyone else considering getting behind the wheel after drinking. (quote)

6 months and 500 bucks a deterrent, likely not. People who get busted for pot serve more time then this guy.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.