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Last updated on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
(BLOOMFIELD) - Jason Hays got the maximum - 20 years in prison.
Anna Rochelle of the Greene County Daily World reports that Hays was sentenced by Judge Erik Allen in Greene Circuit Court Monday afternoon for a class B felony conviction of operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his body causing a crash on Feb. 15, 2012 which claimed the life of Savanah Allen.
The judge specified the sentence is to be fully executed, meaning no probation and no part of the sentence suspended.
It was what the prosecution asked for, as well as the victim's family, represented by Samuel Chavez, father of Savanah Allen.
Chavez spoke to the court following the showing of the family's memorial video of Savanah Allen featuring pictures from her life, her wedding, the birth of her child -- memories that brought tears to family members in the courtroom.
Chavez said his daughter was his treasure, and the family was devastated by her loss.
He said he works in criminal law, and every once in a while, someone redeems themselves by showing remorse, but Hays had only showed a disdain for the law. He called Hays a sociopath with disdain for authority and disdain for society.
"He does not care if his behavior harms other people," said Chavez.
Speaking directly to Hays, he said, "You didn't even bother to go down that gully to see if Savanah needed help.
"I hope God has mercy on your soul, but I hope this court does not."
When the defendant was given his chance to speak, Hays told Allen's family that he was deeply, terribly sorry.
"I know what love is, I too have children and a family and friends," said Hays.
"Because of what happened, I will never truly be free. My soul will carry this heavy burden for the rest of my life."
Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw indicated he doubted that Hays was truly remorseful.
Holtsclaw said throughout this entire investigation and trial, followed by a pre-sentencing investigation, Hays had not shown remorse. He said Hays had written a 24-page autobiography to submit to the court prior to sentencing, but he didn't include any apology for what had happened.
"He's shown no remorse, up until a few minutes ago," said Holtsclaw. "I'll leave it to the court to determine the sincerity."
"There's some people in this world who never learn, never take responsibility for their actions and Jason Hays is one of those people."
During the hearing, Holtsclaw presented a case for Hays to receive the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Holtsclaw said Hays had a significant criminal history including two felony convictions, one for forgery and another for conspiracy to commit dealing in methamphetamine, and he's facing yet another methamphetamine-related case in Daviess County.
At the time of the crash, Hays was out on bond from Daviess County. In addition, he was on probation in both Monroe and Lawrence counties for convictions for purchasing too much pseudoephedrine ( precursor used in methamphetamine manufacture) in too short a time period. And after the crash, he continued meth-related activity.
Greene County Sheriff's Detective Chris McDonald, the lead investigator on the case, testified during the hearing that two days before the crash, Hays was on video purchasing two large two-pound bottles of lye -- lye is also a commonly used in meth manufacture, while Hays was out on bond in one case and on probation in other cases.
Indiana State Police Trooper Josh Allen, assigned to the ISP Meth Suppression Section, also testified that he had discovered Hays had tried to buy pseudoephedrine numerous times between Sept. 11, 2011 when he was released on bond in Daviess County and the day of the crash.
How many times, asked Holtsclaw. Allen said he had found 34 attempts to purchase the precursor. Hays made 15 purchases and was blocked from purchases 19 times.
Trooper Allen testified Hays was still trying to purchase pseudoephedrine after the crash -- at least four attempts with one blocked after the crash but prior to his arrest.
At the conclusion of all the evidence pointing toward Hays' continued methamphetamine-related activity, Defense Attorney James Riester spoke briefly.
"I think the evidence presented here indicates he has a severe addiction problem," said Riester.
The defense asked the court to consider recommending Hays for a program within the Department of Corrections that would provide long-term treatment for his addiction. That didn't happen.
With only two people in the courtroom supporting Hays, his father and step-mother on one side, and with every seat on the other side of the courtroom filled with the victim's family and friends, Judge Allen said he found no mitigating circumstances in the case.
Judge Allen found many aggravating circumstances: A substantial criminal history since Hays was a juvenile; convictions for the illegal transportation of alcohol, driving while suspended, forgery, illegal purchases of pseudoephedrine; being out on bond and facing several meth-related felonies at the time of the crash; his continued involvement with methamphetamine even after the crash; and his arrest on more meth-related felonies after the crash.
The judge said Hays had previously violated terms of a work release program and had violated terms when he was on probation.
Judge Allen said Hays had been given a number of opportunities to address the issue of his addiction "time and time and time again."
"I do find the maximum sentence is appropriate," said Allen.
Hays received 20 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with no credit for time served -- all credit for time served so far applies to the sentence in another case.
The judge also specified the sentence in this case will not be served at the same time as other sentences, but consecutively, meaning after others are served including whatever sentence Hays receives in the Daviess County case.
In his other Greene County meth case, Hays was sentenced to 12 years with four suspended leaving eight to serve. Hays could also receive up to 10 years in Daviess County and if he did, the total time would be 38 years. With good time credit, he could be out in 19, but then he'd be on parole.
"There is no joy today," said Allen. "This is a tragic day."
Speaking to Hays, Judge Allen said, "Your decisions have put you here."
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