Archive for Friday, March 15, 2013

Overland Park man sentenced to five years in prison for fatal 2010 drunken-driving collision in Lawrence

March 15, 2013


A 24-year-old Overland Park man was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for accidentally killing a Lawrence woman in a 2010 vehicle collision on Clinton Parkway.

Sean Barrett Walker pleaded guilty in January to a charge of involuntary manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He appeared in Douglas County Court on Friday to be sentenced in a hearing also attended by his family and several relatives of 19-year-old Mary Grace Paez, who was killed in the accident.

Sean Barrett Walker makes his first appearance before a judge at the Douglas County Jail hearing room on an involuntary manslaughter charge related to a 2010 fatality accident on Clinton Parkway that killed 19-year-old Mary Grace Paez.

Sean Barrett Walker makes his first appearance before a judge at the Douglas County Jail hearing room on an involuntary manslaughter charge related to a 2010 fatality accident on Clinton Parkway that killed 19-year-old Mary Grace Paez.

Walker’s blood-alcohol content was 0.23, nearly three times the state’s legal limit, two hours after the collision Oct. 14, 2010, at the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Inverness Drive, according to a police officer who testified at a preliminary hearing in September. Walker’s westbound vehicle struck a southbound car driven by Paez, a 2010 Lawrence High School graduate, according to police. Paez died at the scene.

In September, a judge approved a $100,000 settlement for Paez’s parents in a civil lawsuit against Walker.

On Friday, Walker's attorney asked Douglas County District Court Judge Michael Malone to depart from state sentencing guidelines that, based on the severity of the offense and Walker's criminal history, would require a sentence of 71 months in prison. The 2010 accident would have been Walker's first DUI offense, but he was on probation for robbery and battery convictions in Johnson County at the time of the accident.

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Walker had completed inpatient drug and alcohol treatment in the years since the accident, his attorney said, while staying gainfully employed and obeying the law. The defense asked for a sentence of 41 months in prison.

Walker admitted being at fault in the accident.

"My actions were wrong. I would take them back if I could," he said. "I know I can't change the past."

Paez's mother, Cecilia Paez, cried while reading a statement to the court.

"We are so heartbroken," she said. "I think about the way she died. I wonder if she was scared when she lay on the cold ground with her injuries. This man must be held accountable for his actions."

But, Cecilia Paez said, adding months to Walker's prison sentence would not bring her daughter back. She said she hoped Walker would be reformed and spend his years doing something positive, so that some good could come from her daughter's death.

Malone said he recognized Walker's efforts to take responsibility for the accident. He departed from the sentencing guidelines by a lesser margin than the defense had asked and sentenced Walker to 60 months in prison.


Mike Wagner 5 years, 2 months ago

What a pc of crap!

5 years for killing someone...Really!?!? (our court system is so broke!!!)

Haiku_Cuckoo 5 years, 2 months ago

The sentence may be light because, if I remember correctly, the victim in this case went through a red light or didn't yield to the right of way or something like that.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

She entered the intersection with a flashing red light. But, Mr. Walker was speeding by a large margin through a flashing yellow at the time, according to the press report at the time, in addition to the infraction mentioned above.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years, 2 months ago

she did nothing wrong and was not in any way at fault...official findings were reported in an earlier article.

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 2 months ago

There was never any evidence that Paez committed any traffic infractions or was at fault in the accident. There are links in the story to earlier articles with more details. At any rate, this was not a factor in sentencing. The maximum sentence, under state law, would have been 71 months. Judge Malone said he departed to 60 because Walker admitted fault, pleaded guilty, and behaved well over the past two years. Ian LJW

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

connected and Ian_Cummings, that's exactly what I said. Clips from the earlier articles:

"Investigators at the time of the accident said they believed Paez made a complete stop at a flashing red light when she pulled into the intersection and the Jeep entered the intersection on a flashing yellow light. Walker was treated at the scene for a head injury."

"Walker was traveling at least 11 mph faster than the 45 mph speed limit on Clinton Parkway, and Paez was driving 13 mph in the 30 mph zone, according to the accident report."

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

Part of the reason I remember the details so well is that some very good friends are friends of the Paez family. Some things you simply don't forget.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

Meanwhile, I have a nephew in for Hard 30 (no chance for parole) in OK for shoplifting, spitting on a cop, and stealing a car while he wasn't on his bipolar meds. There needs to be some sense in sentencing.

Wayne James 5 years, 2 months ago

Off his meds? How old is he? If he is over 21, he should have known better. Secondly, he might just as well hit the policeman...It's still "assault on a officer". That officer didn't know if your nephew was just "high" on something, but spitting on the officer is a real no-no. They suspect everyone they don't know of carrying a contagious disease, therefore they will wear gloves when in contact with a violent suspect, be he/she sober or stoned (drunk) out of their minds. The taaxpayers don't pay them enough to take all the risks.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't know how old he was when he spit on the cop. I'm getting this info secondhand. Still, 30 years? The shoplifting was a "felony" because he had a minor with him, but I think they were 19 and 17 at the time. The cop incident was later, then the auto theft (from his mom) came after that, probably when he was 24, since he was 25 when he went in and will be 55 when he gets out. My sister couldn't get him to stay on his meds and gave up, which is how he ended up with a public defender, attempted suicide in the Oklahoma City jail, and ended up in McAlester prison. Anyway, for those three offenses he'll be locked up for 30 years, while the person in this story will be out in five after killing someone. At least one of these people has been improperly sentenced, but probably both of them have.

To his credit, my nephew is now on his meds and is doing IT in the prison, so maybe he'll have a marketable skill when he gets out in 2034. Meanwhile, Mr. A**hat above will be free when he's 29. Forgive me for having a bad taste in my mouth. Oh, and my sister now regrets turning him in for the auto theft and wouldn't have if she'd known he'd go up for 30 for it. She just wanted her van back and couldn't find him.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

"He should have known better" than to be "off his meds"?

That can happen for various reasons, a few of which are mere forgetfulness, the pharmacy is out of them, they can be misplaced, there is no money for a doctor to prescribe them, or there is no money to buy them. Or, any combination of the above. And there is the further problem of how to pay for mental services, it's not as easy as you might think. You're better off breaking a leg, then you'll get sympathy from everybody.

They do not ever automatically take themselves.

It sounds to me as though a stay in a psychiatric ward would have been much more appropriate, but there not many of them around any more, and the stays in the wards are shorter and shorter. But, it is a fact that the medications are better now, but a problem is that they are also much more expensive, thus leading many to do without, and many people sometimes split the pills to make them last longer.

But, I agree with gccs14r, 30 years of hard time for a mental patient sounds ridiculous.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years, 2 months ago

my heart continues to go out to the Paez family~

nominalize 5 years, 2 months ago

My question is why this trial only happened in 2013, when the accident happened in 2010.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

nominalize 1 hour, 9 minutes ago

My question is why this trial only happened in 2013, when the accident happened in 2010.

---not so uncommon. you have the reports being compiled and other evidence at first, then the lwyers, and then the lawyers and then the lawyers with the judge(s) before it actually comes to full trial. some of the process is to ensure the rights of the accused, such as the indictment process, other hearings early on involving evidence.

it just takes time.
I sincerely hope this brings some closure for the vittim's family. judge Malone is a very fine and fair judge, by far the best in our county. if he saw reason to depart from the guidelnes, there was likely good reason.

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