Letters and Statements on DUII

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


Victims And Concerned Citizens Speak Out


In August of 2000, Crime Victims United received the following opinion piece from Anne Pratt.

Two years ago, on my 50th Birthday, our son was killed by a drunk driver. The offender, Kyle William Wilson, was charged with Manslaughter I, DUII and two assault III's. He pled "not guilty" and a trial with a defense based on blaming the victim, our son, followed.

The trial was by itself an agonizing ordeal, and we felt as if our son had indeed died a second time. To add to our anguish, the judge in the case had an aversion to measure 11's mandatory sentencing and found Wilson guilty of Criminally Negligent Homicide, DUII and two Assault IV's. We believe mandatory sentencing was avoided to such a degree that she erred in her verdict.

The assaults had to be thrown out; they did not coincide with the Criminally Negligent Homicide conviction. Kyle William Wilson received eighteen months for the death of our son and one year for DUII; a total of thirty months....for fifty to sixty years of Brian's life.

Wilson was sentenced to the Ore. State Penitentiary, but never went and has been serving his time at the Deschutes County Jail. In April of this year we were informed that the Deschutes Co. Sheriff's Dept. had plans to release him on a work release program in June, after serving only thirteen months of the thirty month sentence.

Communication with the Sheriff's Dept. resulted in only much frustration. We then turned to the prosecutor in the case and with his assistance, we succeeded in keeping Kyle William Wilson incarcerated, for the time being anyway. We didn't know we would have to also "baby-sit" the sentence. All this while we are grieving the death of our son. That single, reckless, selfish act has devastated the lives of all Brian's family and friends; a part of all of us died along with Brian that night.

Since our son's death, there have been several similar deaths in Lane County with similar or even shorter sentences. I recently attended the sentencing for Kevin Edward Heddinghaus; he was not only intoxicated, but had been using pot at the time of the crash. He killed two passengers; one was his sister, the other his brother's girlfriend. There was a plea bargain. Even though he could have had a much longer sentence, the judge in that case saw fit to give him only eighteen months. I fail to see the justice here.

Recently I have contacted the Mother of Katie Lovelace, via E mail, the twelve year old killed by a hit and run driver. The offender will receive a maximum of forty months. Where will they find justice for Katie's death? The family has expressed openly the need for change in the mandatory sentencing guide lines to include Criminally Negligent Homicide when it involves "hit and run." They are outraged. I understand that emotion so well.

Why can't special circumstances be incorporated into mandatory sentencing? Has anyone explored this possibility? Isn't a death by a drunk driver, hit and run or malicious intent a circumstance "special" enough not to be categorized as an accident?

Let's not only keep Measure 11 intact, but reinforce it to include these "special" circumstances. Individual who commit these crimes are a very direct threat to society........crimes without motive.........striking without warning. Make the punishment fit the crime; seventy months, the same as Manslaughter II, would be much more appropriate. There should be zero tolerance for this senseless waste of human life. Period.

The slaughter on our roadways continues; the offenders walking away with a "slap on the wrist" for their "murder via motor vehicle." What about responsibility and accountability? The pain and devastation of losing your child in a homicide causes a grief no parent should ever have to endure, and will continue long after the offender has completed his inappropriate sentence and "gone on" with his life. We strive to make a difference; we wish for no other family to suffer as we have. You can help us. Don't let this type of crime continue.

The Family of Brian Hood,
Anne& Bruce Pratt

Mike & Phylis Hood
Brothers, Sisters,
Girlfriend & Friends


This is a letter given to Oregon's Senators shortly before a vote on House Bill 2900. The bill passed unanimously.

PLEASE SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 2900

July 10, 2003

Dear Senators,

Bruce and Anne Pratt, Janet Lovelace and Crime Victims United requested this bill in the interest of reducing the violent deaths on our highways caused by intoxicated drivers. Bruce and Anne lost their son, Brian to a drunk driver in 1998 and Janet lost her daughter, Katie to a hit and run driver in 2000.

Brian Hood, age 23 Katie Lovelace, age 12

After many years of declining deaths as a result of increased public awareness, drunk driving deaths and injuries are on the rise again. This is a very senseless and preventable crime. The bill before you today,

HB 2900 is one step in renewing the war against intoxicated driving and the resulting human devastation.

HB 2900 imposes a fine of $500 to $1000 for refusal of the Breathalyzer test in the event of an arrest for suspicion of DUII. The breath test is the best evidence of guilt, or innocence of a suspected intoxicated driver.

Ten states now impose a fine for refusal of the breath test ranging up to $50,000 and/or jail time. A study of 17 other countries shows a zero tolerance for the refusal of the Breath Test. One country considers a refusal the same as a conviction of DUII automatically assigning a Blood Alcohol Level of .16.

We need this legislation to help remove drunk drivers from our roadways for the safety of all Oregonians. Thank you for your support in the ongoing effort to reduce impaired driving. We urge you to pass HB 2900.

Sincerely,

Bruce Pratt, Anne Pratt, Springfield, OR

Janet Lovelace, Eugene, OR

Members of Crime Victims United, The Oregon District Attorneys Assoc and Parents of Murdered Children


On April 12, 2005, Crime Victims United members Anne and Bruce Pratt attended a hearing for Senate Bill 435 which proposed to increase earned time (time off for good behavior) from 20 percent to 33 percent. Time ran out and Anne did not get to testify at that hearing but here is the testimony she prepared.

I am very distressed and astounded that a bill such as Senate Bill 435 is even being considered. Just about the time we finally begin to make progress in reducing the crime rate we have this bill that cuts the heart out of a system that's working. Senate Bill 435 is the reverse of the tougher sentencing laws and will cause a cascade of financial, emotional and social costs to the state and all its citizens. 

I am concerned with the entire picture of SB 435, the bottom line being increasing the "earned time" of presumptive sentences from 20% to 33%. I am concerned with all the affected crimes, but am focused personally on those that affect DUII Homicide and DUII injuries and other DUII related crimes.

Last session we passed SB 421 "Brian's Bill", unanimously in both houses, $500-1000 fine for refusal for the Breathalyzer, helped with a 3 strikes DUII revocation bill and greatly strengthened diversions. These great strides have actually taken many years, cost many lives, dollars and the blood sweat & tears of hundreds or thousands who have worked tirelessly to make Oregon a safer place. I find it totally incomprehensible that you would want to reverse all this life saving work that that has been accomplished.

I can only think possibly you don't understand the reality of these violent crimes. DUII deaths & serious injury does not vanish when you set the morning newspaper down. Death (Criminally Negligent Homicides) cannot be carried out with the morning trash and seriously injured DUII victims (Assault III's) do not heal by wishing it so. NO ONE is exempt from these crimes or related crimes, such as Hit & Run & Reckless Endangerment.

DUII Homicides are the most violent crashes. Our son was not intoxicated but got in with someone he thought he knew and trusted him to drive him home. In the six blocks they had to get home, the intoxicated driver drove off the roadway and flipped the vehicle, an older blazer with the top removed. Brian died a very violent death.........let me describe it for you. It was not a party on wheels........ Brian was thrown to the pavement and then struck in the chest with the right rear wheel of the vehicle.

Brian was a very healthy robust athletic 23 yr. old man; even though his chest was crushed from a 4000lb vehicle, he turned over on his own. According to the neighbor who stayed by his side, his breathing became labored and he began to fight for 
his life, physically, mentally & emotionally; he spoke; he knew he was going to die. When paramedics arrived, they could not successfully insert the breathing tube; his breathing became more labored; his jaws locked and his brain began shutting down. He had multiple injuries, including a ruptured aorta. Brian fought like hell for his life, but died on the pavement. He arrived DOA at the hospital.... that's the phone call we 
received at 2:00 a.m. on Sept. 18th, 1998.........it was my 50th birthday.

It is unbelievable that you would want these offenders who commit these violent crimes to complete only 66% of their sentences. The sentence needs to be long enough to make a 
difference; this cut removes that part of the equation for both offender and victim. 33% would cut "Brian's Bill"..........Criminally Negligent Homicide, a sentence of 36 months down to 24 months. The man who killed our son did serve just 66% of his sentence of 30 months, and we found there were other opportunities for a shorter sentence besides "earned time". By increasing "earned time" to 33% it could amount to even more than 33% off for some. On top of that, we had to "baby-sit" the conviction every step of the way; there seemed to be many opportunities to escape punishment, just to get 66% 
of his sentence served. 66% was not long enough to make a difference.....he continued to thumb his nose at the law.

These crimes most often strike when you least expect them, indiscriminately, without warning, often by an individual you don't even know and tragically sometimes kills or maims multiple victims. There is no motive.........that's what makes them the most dangerous deadly threat to all Oregonians. This could happen to you or a member of your family at any time when traveling the highways. Would you want that person to receive only 66% of a sentence that has been handed down by a judge?

Death and injuries are expensive. In the first two years, our family personally accumulated a $ 100,000 debt, outside of what the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration estimates each DUII Homicide costs society, which is $ 3.6 
million. There was no insurance; no wrongful death suit.

Crime is expensive. Emotionally we have been stripped of our hopes, dreams and life. Also to measure is the giant ripple effect of grief. Our family once strong, independent and vigorous was ripped apart; some members themselves leaned on the system. Life doesn't just "go on" after these deaths............you have to learn to live with a hole in your 
heart. Part of the ability to heal for the victims is knowing the offender will be held accountable by the state they support and live in. Respect for human life, personal Responsibility and offender Accountability are necessary for our state to survive.

I find it extremely upsetting to be fighting this battle during National Crime Victims Week, but I remain determine to see that no other families walk in our shoes. No one should have to endure this type of senseless, preventable and wasteful death or injury of a family member and then be slapped in the face by the Criminal Justice System.

Please vote "NO" on Senate Bill 435.

Thank you for this opportunity.


On June 10, 2005, the Oregon House of Representatives passed House Bill 2828 by a 54-4 vote. HB 2828 would elevate vehicular manslaughter to murder if the killer has a prior conviction for killing or seriously injuring someone while intoxicated or has three prior DUII convictions.

The bill then moved to the Senate where it needed to get through the Senate Rules Committee to a vote of the full Senate. But without the support of some key senators, the bill stalled in the committee.

Crime Victims United supporter Jayne Ferlitsch knew something about the circumstances covered by the bill. Her family was the victim of an intoxicated driver who had previously killed two people while driving intoxicated. She wrote this letter to Senator Kate Brown, the chair of the Senate Rules committee.

Senator Kate Brown
Rules Committee Chair

Dear Senator Brown,

Yesterday, July 18, was the sixth anniversary of the tragic crash that killed Martin Ferlitsch and Jennifer Ferlitsch and seriously injured Angela Ferlitsch.

Martin was killed instantly on July 18, 1999

Jennifer Angela Ferlitsch
January 22, 1987 - July 19, 1999

Today, July 19, is the anniversary of the day we were told there was no hope for Jennifer - she was brain-dead, and the machines were turned off.

Tomorrow, another family may begin a gruesome anniversary count of their loved ones' deaths - because a repeat DUII offender is free to kill again.

What can help? Passing House Bill 2828A.

The man who destroyed our family, James Willie, has now killed a total of four people and seriously injured two in three separate crashes in Oregon. He also has multiple DUII offenses in Texas. A felony murder conviction with a 25-year sentence is appropriate for this type of criminal. Although this applies to a narrow band of offender, I know there are other Oregon families in the same tragic situation.
I'm asking you to give your support to House Bill 2828A to protect innocent people from career DUII criminals. How many more deaths do you need to read about before there is a solution? Keeping repeat DUII drivers OFF THE ROAD is the ONLY way to protect us. Please schedule House Bill 2828A for a vote in the Rules Committee with a recommendation to pass on the Senate floor.
Sincerely,

Jayne M. Ferlitsch
Registered Democrat

Martin Ferlitsch, July 4, 1929 - July 18, 1999

Angela Ferlitsch May 16, 1937 - almost died July 18, 1999 and continues to grieve every day

 


As the 2005 Legislative Session reached its final days, House Bill 2828 needed to receive a vote in the Senate. Here is a letter that Jayne Ferlitsch wrote to legislators.

August 3, 2005
RE: HB 2828B

Dear Senator

HB 2828B will be coming up today or tomorrow for a vote on the Senate floor. This bill increases the penalty for DUII drivers who have killed or assaulted before while DUII and have been arrested for killing or assaulting victims again while intoxicated. 

My father-in-law and niece were killed and my mother-in-law seriously injured when a repeat DUII killer hit their car on a sunny summer day in 1999. The killer's name is James Willie, and he got 16 years for killing two people and seriously injuring another. He previously killed his wife and best friend while driving drunk, and ten years later seriously injured another innocent victim. Willie has numerous DUII convictions on his record-both here and in Texas. He will be out in 2015, and there is no guarantee he won't kill again. 

If HB 2828B was in effect when my family was destroyed, innocent Oregonians wouldn't have to worry that they might be Willie's next victims.

Please give HB 2828B a yes vote and protect innocent people from repeat DUII killers.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Jayne M. Ferlitsch

Martin and Jennifer Ferlitsch

Killed on Hwy 26

July 18, 1999

 

Crime Victims United members lobbied legislators until the final gavel fell on August 5 at 6:35 A.M., but HB 2828 did not receive a vote in the Senate and died.


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