‘I’m The One With the Harsh Sentence,’ Charges Victim, Then Demands Restitution After DUI Car Accident

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By Serene Chang and Sam Zou

SACRAMENTO, CA – Defendant Trevor Behnke expected only a time-served, probation sentence Monday in Sacramento County Superior Court Dept. 63 after being held in custody for 93 days on a felony driving under the influence charge.

But the victim had other plans before sentencing by Judge Timothy M. Frawley. She wanted to give Behnke a piece of her mind.

“When you’re out there, please do not do this again…you see, you’re walking around, you’re untouched. What did you get? A few months in jail? You’re gonna have probation, but I don’t get probation. I don’t get a pass….I feel I’m the one with the harsh sentence,” said the victim.

In her statement, the victim claimed multiple and permanent physical injuries suffered when the defendant, under the influence, hit her car.

In addition to sentencing, one of the victims of the case also prepared a statement and planned to read it aloud in the courtroom via Zoom. The typed statement, along with several letters from other victims, was later submitted to the court and read by Judge Frawley before any official sentence was made.

The victim said she is a retiree of the Department of Justice and an Army veteran. Beginning her testimony, the victim first concludes that “my life has changed so dramatically since Mr. Behnke decided to get behind the wheel of a car under the influence.”

Her alleged current medical conditions can no longer support many of the activities she claims to have done on a regular basis before the car accident.

One of the most immediate effects of the car accident was her banged head during the car impact, inducing some long-term effects such as frequent memory lapses after the injury. Sobbing with some pauses, the victim continues saying that sometimes she forgets where she’s going or what she’s saying mid-sentence.

Besides the head injuries, the victim said there were other effects on other parts of her body.

“It feels like someone is just stabbing my fingertips. I cannot pick up hot pizza anymore…,” said the victim as she continues to list the many daily routines she now has become incapable of doing due to nerve damage on both of her hands. The nerve damage causes her pain whenever she touches water that’s either too hot or too cold.

Her legs, she said, were also in excruciating pain when the paramedic arrived at the scene: “I felt like someone had ripped the skin off both my legs when the paramedics had to cut my clothes off.”

The leg injuries seem to be the major factor that rendered the victim not only in tremendous pain, but also deprived her of former abilities to work and travel normally. Unable to stand for long hours, the victim can no longer continue work to help clear out storage units or houses.

As an active person, the victim also claims that she drove around the country a few times and is a frequent flyer to Atlantic City.

However, her conditions now restrict her ability to travel. In addition to these difficulties, the victim says she now has to carry a cane around her when walking and a walker if she plans to leave the house for errands.

For the past six months after the accident, her sister has been taking care of the victim. However, expecting that her sister cannot stay and care for her for forever, the victim adds that she might also have to pay for health assistance in the future.

The victim asks the court to order the defendant to pay for her loss of income, the extra equipment and health assistant fees she has to pay to help her move around, stating that “I feel you should have to pay restitution for all the pain and suffering and changes that I have gone through and will have to go through.”

However, there are some psychological damages that are not easy to measure in monetary value. Despite her interests to drive and travel around the country, the victim recalls that whenever she starts to enter the freeway nowadays, she gets severe panic attacks and relives the moment when Behnke’s car hit her.

While asking for restitution, the victim also notes that Behnke did not have enough insurance to cover her damage. To cover all the incurring costs, thus, she had to sell her Mercedes for an SUV that can carry all the extra equipment she now has to carry wherever she goes.

As part of the plea agreement, Behnke will serve the remainder of his sentence in home detention or be tasked with a work project if he qualifies for the sheriff’s alternative program options. Behnke must turn himself into custody at the main jail if he does not apply to the sheriff’s office within five days.

The victim previously provided Deputy District Attorney Colin Stephenson with an itemized list of her damages, which amounted to $77,000.

Judge Frawley ordered restitution to be paid in the amount of $77,000, subject to modification at a restitution hearing. Behnke’s defense attorney, Byron Roope, indicated that he will file a motion for a restitution hearing if needed.


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About The Author

Serene Chang is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying History, Journalism, and Human Rights. She is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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