ESCANABA - A 32-year-old Gladstone motorist was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail in connection with the death of a pedestrian he struck and killed in Delta County in 2012.
Paul Leonard McCarty, 32, was driving a pickup truck in Bay de Noc Township on Sept. 27, 2012, when his vehicle struck Kenneth Rogus, 73, of downstate Oxford, who was taking a morning walk near his home on Stonington Point.
McCarty was driving on a suspended license when the fatal accident occurred as the sun was rising that day.
"It was an accident - pure and simple," said McCarty's attorney, Frank Stupak, prior to the court's judgment. The lawyer also noted his client was driving on a suspended license.
Stupak recalled McCarty wanted to meet with the family from day one; the fact that he caused the death of Rogus weighed heavily on him.
In McCarty's statement to the court, he said, "I just want to apologize to his family one last time."
Prosecuting Attorney Steve Parks described the fatal accident as a tragedy for everyone involved. He said the defendant "courageously" met with the family Monday.
"I hope that helps with the healing," commented Parks. "The family has been very forgiving."
The family, prosecution and defense reached an agreement which includes a punishment component, Parks said, adding, "After all, a life was lost."
A victim's advocate read a statement from the family written by Rogus' wife, Carol, who stated the defendant must be held accountable for his decision to choose to drive on a suspended license.
Accompanying Mrs. Rogus in court Tuesday were the couple's two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two friends.
"Ken was much loved and respected by family and friends," wrote his wife of 51 years, adding that Ken's years with his children and grandchildren are now gone. The victims' statement asked McCarty to reflect on life and try to improve his own future.
Judge Stephen Davis commented he was glad McCarty had met with the family.
"But you drove without a license," Davis added, explaining he has to order a punishment for deterrence - to make the defendant and the public aware of the criminal act done while driving with a suspended license.
During McCarty's plea hearing in February, Davis concluded the defendant was driving recklessly and failed to observe what was in front of him, either through carelessness or negligence.
According to the police report, McCarty was driving east on New Wilsey Bay Road in Bay de Noc Township when his pickup struck Rogus who was walking east on the edge of the gravel road. McCarty did not see Rogus when the accident occurred around 8 a.m., just as the sun was rising in the east sky. Rogus died from his injuries.
Following an intensive investigation into the 2012 accident, McCarty was arrested in June 2013. He posted a $2,000 cash bond and was released from police custody. The case was scheduled to go to trial which was later canceled when he pleaded no contest to two charges.
On Tuesday, Davis sentenced McCarty on the contract agreed upon at the plea hearing.
On the felony charge of operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended causing serious injury, McCarty was sentenced to 12 months probation including not driving for a year. The felony will be removed from his record if he successfully completes his probation terms.
On the misdemeanor charge of a moving violation causing death, McCarty was sentenced to one year in jail and given credit for one day served. Court fines and costs were ordered in the amount of $1,560.
In exchange for the above no contest pleas, the court dismissed one felony count of operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license, causing death.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org