Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Young Drunk Driver in Maryland Who Killed Three Feels He is the Victim; Wants to Reduce His Jail Sentence

Illustrating the American Culture of Perpetrator as Victim

Over a year ago there was  a horrific accident on the roads of suburban Maryland.

Kevin Coffay and several friends had left a party. Coffay was drunk, and he slammed a Toyota Corolla into a tree on the side of a Montgomery County road about 3 a.m.

Coffay crawled out from behind an airbag and slipped into the woods. Police and tracking dogs found him hours later and miles away, his blood-alcohol level still double the legal limit for driving. Three of his friends were dead or dying.

The judicial process played itself out in this way

Coffay later pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of failing to remain at the scene of a potentially fatal crash.

Prosecutors asked for a 20-year sentence — relatively stiff by county standards but justified, they said, because of his callous actions that night. The victims’ relatives endorsed the strategy.

But now Mr. Coffay is portraying himself as the victim of a miscarriage of justice and wants judicial relief

Coffay — backed by family, friends and neighbors — will ask three judges to cut his prison sentence, arguing that the original 20-year sentence was more about revenge than justice.

See Mr. Coffay didn’t mean to kill his friends, getting heavily intoxicated and driving them to their deaths was not intentional so why should he be punished with a long jail term (it might not be that long after all, he is eligible for parole after serving about six yeas).  And he really is a nice guy

Coffay’s supporters described him as a sweet young man burdened by early hardships. His father, racked with Alzheimer’s, no longer recognized him. His mother had just completed treatment for breast cancer, helped by Kevin’s driving her to and from chemotherapy appointments.

who in the eyes of his supporters  was excused in his actions because his life had some difficulties (just like everyone else’s who doesn’t get drunk and kill three people and run away from the scene).

As for Mr. Coffay, he says he is being punished for something he didn’t do.

“However, I do think Judge Adams unfairly punished me to address and try to alter the actions of what she described as a ‘culture of recklessness.’ It is not fair to punish me for something I have nothing to do with. I did not create the culture of teens around me and in no way should be held accountable for it.”

The reason this story requires commentary is that it illustrates what appears to be an example some Americans are taking towards their actions that result in injury and death.  The most prominent example of course is George Zimmerman, the man who took a gun in his car to patrol his neighborhood, spotted Trayvon Martin and confronted him resulting in Mr. Martin’s death at the hands of Mr. Zimmerman. 

In his eyes Mr. Zimmerman apparently believes he is just as much a victim as Mr. Martin, much like Mr. Coffay seems to believe that he is just as much a victim as the three people whose life he ended. Many people comment on and complain about the so-called 'culture wars' in America.  A war against the culture that says the perpetrator is a victim is one culture war that should be taking place.

On Friday a three judge panel in Maryland took 12 years off the sentence of this individual who killed three people with his drunk driving.  That's right, 12  years reduced for doing this

                                On May 15, 2011, Coffay crashed a Toyota into a tree off the side of Olney- Laytonsville Road. While his friends were dead or dying, he crawled out from under an airbag and ran into the woods. He was caught several hours later. He was originally sentenced Jan. 5.

What he really deserved was 12 years added to his sentence.  He will be eligible for parole after only serving a couple of years.  His victims are permanently dead.  They get no extension for the time they were alive.]

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