Monday, September 30, 2013

Justice For Danny?

 Roadside memorial for Daniel Haley, age 24, Rt. 116 Amherst/Hadley border

Every time somebody tells me to just "wait until there's a tragedy" so town and state officials will get deadly serious and do something about the prevalence of alcohol induced mayhem in our Happy Valley, I cringe.  

In fact, I get downright angry. 

Because I know that tragedy has already occurred, snatching from friends and family a promising young life just starting to hit stride.

Daniel Haley, age 24,  was only weeks away from graduating UMass/Amherst, an endeavor he worked hard to accomplish -- covering both the study requirements of a chemical engineering major as well as working to cover the cost of higher education. 

He was killed by Brittini Benton of Sunderland, also age 24, who was driving the wrong way on Rt 116 in Hadley, while under the influence of alcohol.  A lot of it! (BAC of 0.179, more than twice the legal limit).

A second offense no less.

But Ms. Benton, unlike Daniel Haley, will continue to age.  Only now she will do it from the cramped confines of a prison cell.  For the next five to seven years.

I asked a family member, great uncle Mike Haley, if he was satisfied with the outcome of the trial and the punishment recently meted out to Ms. Benton by our justice system.

Mr. Haley said the sentencing had brought "some form of closure" but obviously it was a "very hard day for the family."  Mike Haley and  Daniel's cousin -- who was more like a sister -- read prepared statements and the assistant DA read the statement of Daniel Haley's heartbroken mother.

The sentencing had been delayed three months so Ms. Benton, who became pregnant after the accident, could have her child.

The "system" allowed her back on the road only seven month after the first DUI.  The system delayed sentencing for over three months so she could bring a child into the world.

And not all that many years from now, the system will allow Brittini Benton back into a our free society; and who knows, maybe even allow her to drive a car again.

 "I only wish Danny had that opportunity," said Mike Haley somberly.

And if Massachusetts made interlock ignition switches mandatory after the FIRST offense for DUI, that alone would have saved him.  

#####

Time to close the loopholes

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least she kept her facebook page active.
https://www.facebook.com/brittini.benton

Tom McBride said...

Okay Larry, what would you do about the prevalence of alcohol induced mayhem in our Happy Valley? By the way, you misspelled prevalence.

Larry Kelley said...

An ignition interlock system for every driver convicted of DUI after the FIRST offense, would have saved Daniel Haley's life.

Tom McBride said...

It's in the works. Write a letter to your representative. They charge the person convicted for its use. It's a win win. And for those that argue that the University is not concerned about alcohol related problems, that argument falls flat with me. And you can't argue that we haven't made progress since the first drunk driving laws went into effect years ago. The current police chief in Amherst worked his way up the ladder making drunk driving arrests. And write to District Attorney Sullivan or whatever his name is. He answers his his mail, or at least he answered one of my queries.

Anonymous said...

A 5 to 7 year sentence is not justice. Nor is waiting 3 months to have your baby. She killed someone because she is extremely irresponsible, self centered, and has no care for other human life. I wonder what she will tell her child. We all make mistakes but not twice. She will never truly understand the pain she has caused others.

Tom McBride said...

It's very tragic, no question about it, I've known people that have been affected, and I'm not saying she's an alcoholic, but alcoholics can make the mistake twice, and unfortunately multiple times. We don't know that she doesn't start to understand the pain she's caused.

Walter Graff said...

Even worse she was selfish enough to have a child knowing she was going to prison. The most important years in a a child's life are the formative years from birth to six. The rest of your life and how you deal with the world are shaped during this time. This child will end up another statistic in some sense. Two generations of dysfunction guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

I agree: you must blow a breathylizer to start the car after first offense.

Anonymous said...

Larry, do you honestly believe that her race wasn't a factor here? Take a look at her facebook page and tell me that any young, ambitious & intelligent officer would want to arrest her for drunk driving -- knowing that the inevitable race/sex discrimination complaints would be forthcoming.

How many times was her car not stopped because they knew whose it was? How many times was she just warned to "be careful" or something?

You know as well as I do what would happen to the white male officer who arrested her -- not matter how drunk she was -- if she hadn't hit something (or someone) first.

Look at Obama's "Uncle Omar" -- he made a right turn from the inside lane and nearly took the hood of the (marked) police cruiser that was in the outer lane -- the Framingham officer had good reflexes and good brakes which is why there wasn't an accident -- but once the officer had managed to avoid the accident, I kinda think he had probable cause to stop the vehicle that had damn near caused it, don't you?

The court disagreed. Uncle Omar was blotto -- but got to keep his license. And it was the officer who got into trouble...

Enough said???

PC is at least a big an issue as OUI...

Anonymous said...

One other thing -- when exactly did this accident happen? She either (a) was pregnant (and drunk) the night it happened, or (b) got pregnant knowing she had criminal charges pending.

Did her attorney advise her to get preggers in hopes she wouldn't go to jail? Gotta wonder....

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else amazed at how much expertise and all-knowing wisdom there is from the commenters on this blog?

Anonymous said...

You are wrong on this one Larry. I do not want to hear "it would have saved a life" argument..."its for the kids" "its about safety". ENOUGH ALREADY. The even was tragic no doubt, unfortuneately tragic events occur on a free society. We cannot legislate saftey nor can we put bubble wrap around society. These things happen and those who cause them should be held accountable. End of story.

Require an interlock device? She uses andother car w/o one. Laws are only pieces of paper Larry and only affect the law abiding. Those who are intent on commiting a crime will find a way. breaking

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I'm sure an ass like you would loan their car to someone who was convicted of drunk driving.

Anonymous said...

Who said that? An A$$ like me understands the system. So stop with the name calling, it cheapens your "journalism" effort here.

Interlock devices for a 1st offense conviction is short sighted on many levels. The DUI/OUI statutes in this state is fraught with loopholes. (aside; The were written by defense attorneys while actively practicing defense laws..ethical?). IF you did this getting a conviction would be 10X harder.

Those intent on commiting a crime will find away around the "safeguards". Those who sacrifice liberty for security....

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I heard that dumb ass "liberty" spiel during the 'Smoking Ban in Bars' war 13 years ago.

Dr. Ed said...

And 13 years from now, Larry, you will longingly remember the Amherst of today -- when people had money and property was worth something.

But answer this -- when the APD is busy arresting college kids for having a noisy party, how many drunk drivers are they not arresting?

Anonymous said...

Let's remember that a young man lost his life, a family and his friends feel a deep void and it was a MURDER! Only 5-7 years for killing someone. A choice was made to drink and drive. Now suffer the consequences. Would this be acceptable to anyone if this happened to them? It happened to my family and you never recover. Penalties for other offenses that have not killed anyone get higher penalties. Why is that? Because many people drink and drive. If you murder anyone, you should get life in prison. At least you still have a life!

Dr. Ed said...

Well, at least some leftist judge didn't say that she lacked the chromosone to metabolize alcohol and hence it was OK for her to drive drunk.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/11/massachusetts-judge-rules-illegal-immigrant-incompetent-to-stand-trial/