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Last updated on Wednesday, July 10, 2013
(BEDFORD) - David Terrell was sentenced to 14 years in prison for operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting the death of his fiancee 42-year-old Leslie Mitchell.
"No words can describe the remorse I feel," Terrell read from a prepared letter to Superior Court I Judge Michael Robbins. "I had no closure on the loss of my loved one. I can't help but wonder why it was her life instead of mine."
Mitchell died after Terrell crashed a motorcycle they were riding on attempting to avoid a deer on Ind. 450 West. Terrell swerved to miss the deer and ran off the north side of the roadway, rolling over, throwing both him and Mitchell, from the cycle.
Mitchell suffered head injuries and was rushed from the crash site and then airlifted to Methodist Hospital where she later died.
Terrell pleaded guilty to the Class B felony and admitted he had been drinking and taking prescription medicine before the accident. His blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit for Indiana.
Public defender Lorinda Youngcourt said she has never seen remorse so strong in a defendant before, and the remorse was evident from videotapes recorded by officers at the scene. She also told Judge Robbins she was concerned about Terrell's mental health because of how distraught he was over Mitchell's death.
Deputy Prosecutor Jody Donaldson agreed with Youngcourt about Terrell being remorseful.
But Donaldson also raised aggravating circumstances like Terrell's past dealing with substance abuse with alcohol and marijuana. Terrell was charged with operating while intoxicated in 2011, not even a full year before the fatal accident in October 2012. Donaldson also pointed out that courts had offered Terrell rehabilitation for his addictions more than once, and Terrell rejected them. Terrell has also violated his pre-trial release when he was on house arrest with an electronic monitor.
Donaldson recommended a sentence of 18 years, two years less than the maximum penalty.
"In the court's opinion, remorse has to start early," Robbins said. "It took the death of someone allegedly close to him ... for him to address his addiction. It is easy to feel remorse in the face of a tragedy."
Robbins also rejected a few of the aggravating circumstances Donaldson raised, but still determined the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances.
Robbins sentenced Terrell to 14 years of prison suspending four years. He will be placed on two years supervised probation and two years unsupervised. Upon the end of his Department of Correction sentence, Terrell's license will be suspended for two years.
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