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Woman gets 1-year jail sentence for fatal DWI crash

2013-06-14T20:00:00Z Woman gets 1-year jail sentence for fatal DWI crashDON LEHMAN -- dlehman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star

FORT EDWARD -- A Vermont woman who was drunk when she caused a fatal crash in Hebron last summer was sentenced Friday to a year in Washington County Jail during an emotional hearing in Washington County Court.

The 1-year jail term was the maximum Cassie E. Earley could have received for convictions for aggravated driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and failure to keep right for causing the July 29 crash that killed Vincent J. Muro Sr., 83, of West Rutland, Vt. The crash also injured a passenger in Muro’s vehicle.

Despite the jury finding Earley was drunk, had a blood alcohol content more than double the threshold for intoxication and veered out of her lane on Route 22, she was acquitted of felony counts of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

That left Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan with sentencing options that included a maximum of 1 year in county jail, 3 years of probation and fines.

The judge heard an emotional apology from Earley, as well as a statement from Muro’s daughter, Angela Lundrigan, who told how her Korean War veteran father still worked to pay his taxes despite his age. He suffered broken ribs, a spinal injury and other internal injuries.

“He died a violent death,” she said. “He did not die immediately.”

Earley, 29, of Arlington, Vt., read a prepared statement and turned to Muro’s family in the court gallery and apologized, saying she was “full of regret and remorse.”

“I hope someday you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” she said.

She said she hasn’t drank or used drugs since the crash and is attending 12-step program meetings two or three times a week.

“I have chosen to take this as the biggest life lesson I could receive,” she said.

Earley’s lawyer, Kevin O’Brien, asked for a sentence that reflected his client’s status as a first-time DWI offender. He asked for a fine, probation and community service, saying the jury “did not determine she was criminally responsible for this death.”

McKeighan disagreed and took issue with Earley’s statement of remorse. He said she didn’t call for help from the crash scene, didn’t ask how the victims were and didn’t show remorse.

He also took issue with how “you celebrated like it was the end of a football game” when the jury found her not guilty of the felony charges.

“You were found guilty of causing that accident,” the judge said.

McKeighan also directed she spend 3 years on probation after being released from jail and have an ignition interlock device on her vehicle during that period. He also imposed $3,100 in fines and surcharges.

Earley will have to serve at least 8 months before becoming eligible for release.

She had a blood alcohol content of 0.18 percent, more than double the 0.08 percent threshold for DWI, and admitted using cocaine during a party hours before the early morning collision.

O’Brien said after Friday’s sentencing he did not agree with the judge’s analysis and said the sentence will be appealed. He said he may seek to have his client released from jail on bail pending the appeal.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(30) Comments

  1. 518bookmaker
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    518bookmaker - July 03, 2013 7:44 am
    One of three things happened.
    1. The prosecutor failed to prove the case.
    2. The jury failed.
    3. The defense just got a good lawyer.
    It appears it was probably the prosecutor that failed.
  2. jmc
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    jmc - July 02, 2013 9:14 pm
    Thats because it makes no sense lol
  3. nyyankee
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    nyyankee - July 02, 2013 2:47 pm
    Not sure what all that even means.......
  4. YMan
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    YMan - July 02, 2013 8:57 am
    I'll skip the DWI somehow being a prerequisite to manslaughter question; you've obviously came to that conclusion by, what has came out the DA's office many times before; And stuck in a paradigm may be a contributing factor. I would look into the old family "Private Prosecutors". No grant money involved there, and they work for the best interest of the victim's.
  5. jmc
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    jmc - July 01, 2013 4:18 pm
    THANK YOU YANKEE!!
  6. jmc
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    jmc - July 01, 2013 3:11 pm
    Bottom line in this story is.....without the DWI the DA's office did not have manslaughter. The drinking and driving and drugging and driving is what led to the charge end of story. I'm done arguing it......I suggest you go talk to one of your law professors when next semester starts up because you are being misled somewhere.
  7. nyyankee
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    nyyankee - July 01, 2013 11:14 am
    What if your relative drove off the road and it was only a one car accident? Not every accident has two vehicles involved. I think what you're ignoring is the contributing factor. The fact that somebody is driving drunk and under the influence of drugs is THE contributing factor in this crash. It is a known fact that driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol or both will impair a persons ability to drive safely. It is also a known fact that driving under the influence of drugs and or alcohol is against the law. So if a person drives under the influence, their driving skills are diminished and will be a contributing factor in any crash this person may be involved in. Driving under the influence increases the chance for a crash and so the penalties are enhanced if a crash occurs. It makes perfect sense to most of us.
  8. YMan
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    YMan - July 01, 2013 9:37 am
    Exactly "SHE" should've known better, not the medications, not the booze or anything you want to blame it on, self accountability, Human error! Booze has to do with a driving fatality, just as little as crack has to do with robbery; I don't see any "Robbery While Impaired" charges, they just charge the person with Robbery! So the jury was bamboozled (by the DA and MADD Victim Advocates) into thinking that DWI would be sufficient and a necessity in a fatality, But theres no grant money in Manslaughter, Theres grant moneys in DWI, and thats why the DA [and MADD victim advocates] was so h#llbent on getting the DWI's, as oppose to the well deserved (in my opinion) manslaughter. Here this article is with a lady getting 1 year because of thought processes much like yours.
  9. jmc
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    jmc - June 30, 2013 9:06 pm
    Oh and the lady you are talking about was driving while ability impaired. She was under the influence of medications that should not be taken while driving. Therefore it was not a true accident and she should have known better than to drive while taking such powerful medications.
  10. YMan
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    YMan - June 30, 2013 3:38 pm
    I'll post it when I find it, The lady in Albany, Jumped the curb hit 3 old ladies out by a church or school or something, she got pinged with manslaughter, only one charge though. But I'm sure when the DA comes to your door and tells you the news (which hopefully won't happen) you would fold like a lawn chair and say "ACCIDENTS HAPPEN". I'll be investigating shoe sizes, how far the bodies flew, length of skid marks, color of clothing, whether there was a crosswalk or sidewalk; I guess thats the politics behind it, DA knows what he can get away with telling you, He isn't telling me not to look into it. I'm reading on manslaughter alright, theres plenty of variables, and the person they send the news to, is the biggest variable, so in YOUR case "accidents happen". Way to blame the beer in "DWI" yet again, booze makers at fault for a human violating safety, anybody whom has a DWI usually does that!
  11. jmc
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    jmc - June 30, 2013 10:35 am
    Here is an example for you since you do not get it.... http://poststar.com/news/local/route-crash-claims-life/article_ec94081e-13c8-559d-b421-7f5e19d731aa.html

    Read that article. The police officer stated the driver who caused the accident would likely get traffic tickets, but criminal charges were unlikely to be filed.

    Why was he not charged with manslaughter or another equivalent charge?? BECAUSE IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! Now had he been drunk it would be a different story, because his intoxication would have been the cause.
  12. jmc
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    jmc - June 30, 2013 9:07 am
    No accidents happen. People are not charged. You need to do some research on this.
  13. YMan
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    YMan - June 29, 2013 4:43 pm
    If a DA came to my door and said, "your relative or relatives are dead, it was only an accident, so I can't charge the other party" That DA would leave with a broken nose at the very least.
  14. jmc
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    jmc - June 29, 2013 1:59 pm
    I don't need to ask. I know the answer. If it is a true accident people do not get charged with manslaughter or any crime of the sort.
  15. YMan
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    YMan - June 28, 2013 8:30 pm
    No consequences in accidents, One would only wish, They make laws so individuals would be careful - or else-. Beings how it political season, If the DA comes to your door for a signature ask him! I'm sure going to re-ask my professor next semester, if the DA doesn't come around here.
  16. jmc
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    jmc - June 27, 2013 8:03 pm
    The jury in this case served the injustice to the deceased. By not understanding, just the way you are not understanding now. There is no separate issue of sobriety. The intoxication led her to kill this man. End of story. If I drive out of my driveway today and do not see a car coming and pull out in front of it and the person in it dies, that is manslaughter?? No it is not. It is an accident. If I do the same thing drunker than a skunk and high as a kite is it manslaughter?? Yes it is! My poor choice to drink and drive and impair my cognitive abilities caused that death of a person! This is not rocket science.
  17. YMan
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    YMan - June 27, 2013 4:19 pm
    And yet your saying, if the death is a result of, a mere accident, there should be no consequenses. I'm saying state of sobriety is a completely separate issue than the higher crime in the issue (manslaughter). Your bundling things together like the congress, Its not a pre-requisite to be drunk to commit manslaghter. I'm looking at Line Items and separating charges (Kind of like business law entity concept); If I was juror on the case at hand (Vermont woman, Drunk Fatality). I would've been pushing the manslaughter charge first and foremost, anything less was/is an injustice to the deceased.
  18. jmc
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    jmc - June 27, 2013 8:17 am
    So you do not think that she caused that accident because she was high and drunk? The cocaine and alcohol that she decided to ingest caused the accident. Keywords she decided to ingest. Death of a man caused by her decision to drive intoxicated. If you can't see that she caused this death I sincerely hope that you are never called for jury duty again. Wow! I'm speechless....
  19. YMan
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    YMan - June 26, 2013 8:34 pm
    I do see her getting manslaughter, in the sober driving wrong lane case; Thats why theres Manslaughter (ones actions caused a persons death) and homicide (more deliberate action of killing somebody with intent). The jury would assess if there was an action the driver, in your story, could have done to prevent the unwillful killing of that of another; the answer would be yes, she could have stayed in her own lane. I understand what your getting at, but do not concur. Blaming drugs\alcohol is like passing the buck and, to me, just irrelevant.
  20. jmc
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    jmc - June 25, 2013 9:27 pm
    I am kind of saying that.The two instances that you mention are not accidents. The could be caused by the persons negligence. Think about it. Cassie Earley is driving down the road completely sober and veers into the wrong lane. She gets a traffic ticket for failure to keep right and it is an accident. Accidents happen everyday where there are fatalities involved. Do you see them getting charged with manslaughter? No. If she were sober (and she wasn't texting or throwing chainsaws from her window) she would not have been charged with manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. The DWI was the main reason why the accident happened and a man died. How a jury could find that she was intoxicated and driving but she was not culpable for that mans death is outrageous. Her intoxicated state caused that mans death and if she is guilty of DWI she should be guilty of causing his death as well. Complete screw up by this jury!
  21. YMan
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    YMan - June 23, 2013 4:29 pm
    JMC, so your saying that one needs a "negligent motive" or a motive to prove they killed somebody. So if one, threw an old running chainsaw from a tree, and it killed someone, I couldn't be even charged with manslaughter? Or was texting while driving and hit somebody resulting in death, It would be only an Accident, no charges?
  22. jmc
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    jmc - June 18, 2013 6:18 pm
    YMan,
    Without the DWI all you have is an accident! The DWI is what caused the death of the man and the charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide/Manslaughter!!
  23. YMan
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    YMan - June 17, 2013 5:26 pm
    The DA wanted the DWI charges more than he wanted the Homicide\Manslaughter charges. If you tell the Jury that one can recieve UP TO 5 years per DWI charge,(and negate to tell them its her first one, meaning she gets a year or less) they are automatically gonna assume thats 15 years right there(due to 3 DWI charges at once).The DA should've dropped the 3 DWI charges, and just went for Criminally Negligent Homicide\Manslaughter; But they won't. Thanks to the "DWI Victim Advocates", If one were to get into an accident, thier fault and causing death, the best option is to down a few beers to lower thier sentance before the Cops even get there. Zero blame for the Jury in my eyes, DA should've expained she has no record, so DWI Charges are irrelevant, but the DA has the "DWI Victim Advocate" Bloggers and voters to tend to If he doesn't persue DWI. If I'm prosecuting a Death with the Element of DWI in it, DWI is getting dropped, and the first advocate coming in there to change my agenda!!!!!
  24. jmc
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    jmc - June 15, 2013 4:57 pm
    Jenny,
    She was charged with numerous felonies! She just was not convicted of any of them. The Washington County Jury is to blame for this one not the law. If she had been convicted 2nd degree manslaughter she could have been sentenced up to 15 years in prison. The jury got this one terribly wrong!
  25. Key
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    Key - June 15, 2013 4:28 pm
    The jury should be ashamed of themselves; she should have been convicted of the two felony counts of 2nd-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. In addition, she should have been convicted of leaving the scene of a crash without reporting an accident. Unfortunately, this society is minimizing this kind of irresponsible behavior, hence the juries decision to condone what the defendant did in this case. The judge is right about her inappropriate response to the not guilty verdicts on the felony counts; it was a sign of definate lack of remorse to "celebrate" the verdict.
  26. Melissa33
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    Melissa33 - June 15, 2013 4:28 pm
    UNREAL !!!!! This is pathetic !
  27. JennyGirl
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    JennyGirl - June 15, 2013 9:53 am
    Unfortunately until lawmakers change the penalty for certain crimes we can't expect people to get the punishments we are expecting. She was sentenced under the full extent of the law. Do we feel based on the circumstances she deserves a higher sentence? Sure but she was not charged with a felony so what can we expect?
  28. watchdog
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    watchdog - June 15, 2013 7:54 am
    it would take 5000 characters to express comment's on this story. but I choose to express just one word, "OUTRAGES"
  29. someone in glens falls
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    someone in glens falls - June 14, 2013 11:04 pm
    Really? One year? She took a life. I know she is remorseful. But really? Now I guess she will have a "reason" to drink her life away. So maybe it's a life sentence. But really. She took a life. This just doesn't seem right. There is no answer.
  30. burmer
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    burmer - June 14, 2013 9:47 pm
    ARE YOU KIDDING ME...WAKE UP NEW YORK!!

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