Judge Balances Powerful Impact Statements with Sentencing Rules in DUI Death

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By Alex Klimenko

VENTURA, CA – Judge Bruce Young here in Ventura County Superior Court last week listened to very moving impact statements by the victim’s family, but felt he had to balance that with the law in sentencing first-time offender Anthony Macias.

Macias pleaded guilty on May 3 to the charges of “Fleeing the Scene of an Accident Involving Death and Driving While Under the Influence of Any Alcoholic Beverage.”

During the sentencing hearing people passionately described their relationship with the victim, and how their lives have changed since the incident.

“We cared for him, played with him, we love our brothers and sisters with so much intent and passion, time can’t take that away. It’s embedded in us to love each other no matter what,” said one.

One person said of the defendant “this guy is a monster that needs more than a slap on the wrist.”

The person later stated, “My last memory of seeing his handsome face is in a casket.”

Another victim described her struggles with the possible sentencing outcomes as well as the implications of the future: “My brother is not going to see his kids grow up, his grandkids.”

The hearing then moved to the prosecution’s argument for an appropriate sentence. Based on the impact that the crime had as well as the nature of the crime, Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Ramirez argued for the court to impose a three-year sentence.

DDA Ramirez first argued about the impact that this case has had on the victim’s family, noting, “This is a horrific case that has completely blown apart and destroyed a family. A large family. The defendant’s actions in the case are some of the most horrific that I have seen.”

DDA Ramirez then described the crime at length as well as the role that alcohol had in the case.

Defense counsel Brian Weilbacher then argued for Macias. First, he acknowledged the difficulties of the case, maintaining, “I deeply regret that we are here, and Macias regrets that we are here.”

Weilbacher then refocused the court on the legal matters at hand, arguing the prosecution “abandoned any theories related to Macias being culpable in connection with the accident including even negligence. The reason why the People did this, and I believe they did so responsibly because the evidence did not support that.”

Weilbacher highlighted the importance the letters that people wrote in support of Macias. Weilbacher insisted on a sentence of 12 months.

Judge Young spoke of the difficulties he had presiding over this case, emphasizing the importance of following the law. Judge Young stated that though Macias was involved in a previous case, it was dismissed and he has no criminal record.

Judge Young then stated, “Alcohol or drugs as help with artistry is well misplaced, read about Jim Morrison, and how creative he was. Read about Janis Joplin, and how creative she was. That is a wrong way to go, sir, as an artist to think those things enhance your abilities.”

Judge Young then warned, “I have no hesitation imposing maximum sentences on individuals that come back, and sentence Macias to two years in jail and three years of parole with credit for time already served.”

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