On May 5, 2002, Vincent Rutledge and Matthew Burton caused the four car crash that ended with two deaths, several injured, while racing at high speed on I-71, both were legally drunk. Burton tested positive for cocaine. Rutledge, Burton and Katrina Hodge were driving NB, Rutledge hit the car driven by Hodge, she hit Burton. Burton careened at high speed across the median, hit the van head on driven by Richard Moskwa, Sr. Richard Moskwa Jr., 24, was front seat passenger who had such severe injuries he went into cardiac arrest enroute to hospital by air, was DOA upon arrival. Val Zalewski, passenger in back, was injured with broken ankle and broken fingers. Richard Moskwa, Sr. was seriously injured with shattered pelvis, broken hip. Burton's passenger, Carmen Williams was killed on impact. Burton was also injured. Rutledge received no injuries. Both Rutledge and Burton was charged with 2 counts of wanton murder, plead to lower charges of 2 counts of Manslaughter 2nd Deg. and several other felony charges.
Both were sentenced by Judge Stanley Billingsley. Rutledge on August 24, 2004 to serve 13 yrs., Burton was sentenced on Feb. 28, 2005 to 7 yrs.
On May 6, 2005 Rutledge was granted early release due to shock probation motion (which is no justice) that was filed by his attorney. Judge Billingsley in his order says "the defendant will be supported by the assistant of a truly outstanding family".. He considered his long history of steady employment, physical effects on his health as a result of his incarceration over the last eight and half months in prison. Please Note: he lost 50 pounds and some teeth). OUR SON LOST HIS LIFE!!. It was also said that shock probation and community service is the appropriate decision and that Rutledge's situation is exactly the type for which shock probation was intended.
In Sept. 2005, Judge Billingsley denied Burton's attorney's motion for early release stating that his case was different than Rutledge's because he had cocaine in addition to the alcohol. So it's ok to drink and drive and kill in KY but don't use cocaine, that's justice in KY??? No one should be released on Shock Probation if the crime involves a death!!!!!!
Shock probation is a shock to the victims not the prisoner. There is no justice when this law allows a judge to pick and chose anyone to go free after taking lives. The prisoner has all the rights. where are our son's rights. Can our son be shocked from his casket where Rutledge put him??? Of course not, so than why should Rutledge be shocked into early release. This law allows the judge to overturned his OWN ruling. We have not only been victimized by Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Burton we have been victimized by Judge Stanley Billingsley and the KY Justice and Judicial System. KY has killed our son twice and set his killer free.
People who are killed by drunk drivers are done so violently, our son died a very violent death. Shock Probation MUST be abolished where any crime involves a death, regardless of how that death occurs. PRISON IS PUNISHMENT!! Life is our most Precious Thing...We must protect Life and those who take it must serve out the full sentenced allowed without Shock Probation!!
Rick & Debbie Moskwa (Ricky's Parents)
Family & Friends of Anne Scharf
Anne was 17 years old. She was killed on November 14, 1985 by a 19 yr. old drunk driver who had a blood alcohol level of ".23". Anne's killer plead guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter, she spent 63 days in Jefferson County jail. Believe me when I say that shock probation is an equal horror to the actual loss of my daughter. Shock probation devalued her Right to Life and stripped her of her due course of justice under Ky's law. Shock Probation is an insult to those who have been killed on Ky's highways. Shock Probation must not be an option for those who have killed while driving drunk.
Carolyn Scharf (Anne's Mom)
Family & Friends of Carmen Williams
Carmen's life was stolen on May 5, 2002, she was killed on impact. She was the passenger of Matthew Burton who crashed head on into the car that was driven by Rick Moskwa (who was severely injuried), his son Ricky Moskwa was killed. Please see story of Ricky Moskwa for further details.
Family & Friends of Joshua Bartley
On July 15, 2009 our son Joshua Michael Bartley was killed by a drunk driver. Josh was 22 years old his whole life ahead of him. The young woman that took our son's life had a blood alcohol level of .196 the night of July 15, 2009. What she did was more than a mistake; it was a conscious decision to drink in excess and drive.
Not only have we had to deal with the death of our son, but we have been thrown into a series of court dates and appearances that have been extremely trying and stressful. We were devastated when on the 30th day of her incarceration in the Bullitt Co. Detention Center, her attorney filed a motion for a shock probation hearing. This young woman spent 50 days incarcerated in the local jail.
What a disgrace, what an insult to my son and our family. Shock probation should be denied to anyone that has caused a death. In the judges own words at the sentencing he said, "giving her probation would unduly depreciate the seriousness of the crime", yet 50 days later this same judge released her on shock probation. Granting shock probation is wrong, unfair and unjust. We only ask for some justice for our son and consequences for his killer.
As long as there continues to be no punishment, as long as judges are allowed to use shock probation and release criminals, as long as they continue to get their "slap on the wrist", people are going to continue to die at the hands of drunk drivers. Families are going to continue to be destroyed by this violent crime.
Please don't delay in changing the shock probation law.
Sincerely, John and Melissa Bartley
The Daughter of LOIS & OATHER (BOOTS) RALSTON
I am Brenda Sue Ralston Stansbury, the only child of Lois and Oather (Boots) Ralston. It saddens me to tell you that both my parents were killed on Sunday morning, May 16, 1999, at 5:45 A.M. by a 19-year-old female drunk driver. These past 11 years have been very difficult for our family.
Mother and Daddy were on their way to a fun-filled day at a Flea Market. This 19-year-old girl, who had spent the past 12 hours drinking and partying with friends, ran into the rear end of my daddy’s Toyota pick-up truck on Daddy’s side, causing their truck to roll twice on the Watterson Expressway. Their truck flipped upon the top edge of a concrete wall barrier, went over the barrier and fell 100 feet onto a railroad track below. The drunk driver was not hurt.
Shortly after the crash, we met on a Saturday morning with Commonwealth Attorney Alex Dathorne, who had gone to the crash scene and was therefore in charge of Mother and Daddy’s case. All of us, my husband, our two children, our son-in-law and I, were very impressed with him. He told us that this girl WAS going to prison for her crime. But, the next week, this same attorney was picked up by police on a DUI. His breathalyzer test showed .20. At that time, .10 was considered legally drunk. We feel like we lost our case right then. Dathorne was rightfully removed from our case and David Schuler was appointed in his place. Schuler made us feel like we’d be lucky if this girl did any time at all. He didn’t feel that he could convince a jury that the drunk driver was the cause of Mother and Daddy’s death. Her breathalyzer test at the scene of the crash was .17 and much later at the hospital her BAC was .13, well above .10.
The girl who killed my Mother and Daddy had spent a total of 64 days in prison for killing them when the judge released her on Shock Probation. In her plea agreement for Shock Probation, she agreed to speak for Operation Sober (where she’d go out and speak to youth groups around prom and graduation time); however, she wanted to pick and choose when and where she spoke and she didn’t want to speak to her peers. She was not to drive a vehicle for 5 years and she signed an agreement to pay for the burial expenses of my parents. After she was released from prison, she came back and told the judge she didn’t want to pay burial expenses, as she felt she had paid enough. He agreed, and she did NOT pay the burial expenses. Our court systems appear to be there only for the criminals and not for victims. It is only a Legal System and not the Justice System it should be. Any consideration that is given is solely for the criminal, whereas the victims of crimes soon become victims again, but this time they are victims of the courts.
I never dreamed that something like this could happen to our family. Both my parents were compassionate, loveable, considerate and full of life. They celebrated life every day. Now, we’ve been served a life sentence of heartache, despair and frustration. It’s something that we can never get over. I miss them both so much.
The Family and Friends of Branson
Branson Taylor Warner-Cummins and he was 6
On October 2nd 2004 at approximately 5:25 in the afternoon my grandson Branson lost his life and my wife Polly was severely injured when a pickup driven by Joseph Shreve crossed the center line on Hwy 127 in Anderson County and struck our car. It’s hard to put into words the eerie silence that follows a car crash and even harder the horrific shock of looking into the lifeless eyes of a child who only seconds earlier was laughing and carrying on a conversation about a piece of farm equipment.
The ride to UK Hospital seemed an eternity as the Paramedic worked with Branson. Although in my heart I knew Branson had been called to his Heavenly home I keep hoping and offering up small prayers that a pulse would be found. Even in the emergency room I hoped there was a small pulse that had been missed but this was not to be. And to see the anguished look in Stephanie’s, Branson’s mom, face when I told her “Branson’s gone” is something no one should have to see or do.
It’s been 4 years 4months and 5 days since the accident and we have learned to create a sort of new “normal” for ourselves. At every opportunity, we show Branson as a reason why people should not drink and drive. It is important that people realize the pain they cause when the decision to drive drunk is made.
Statistically in 2007 in the State of Kentucky there were 204 deaths and 2,866 injuries attributed to DUI. While many will say that is a small number I only hope that one day they are not one of the living victims due to a drunk driver.
David Warner, Branson Grandpa
Family and Friends of Jessica McCawley
Jessica Noel McCawley (11-18-1986 - 10-21-2006)
was killed in Louisville, KY by two drunk drivers
One driver got off on reckless driving - the public defender hired a Crash Analysis Expert the state would not. The other driver sentenced to 7 1/2 yrs (MOCKERY OF JUSTICE).
I am against Shock Probation in Dui cases especially those involving injury and fatality, as it lessens the severity of the violent nature of the crime.
Mona McCawley, Jessica’s Mom____________________________________________________________________________
The Family & Friends of Stephen Coke
Stephen was 16 yrs old. His killer was convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter. He was released on shock probation and served only 6 mos.
The Family & Friends of “Baby fetus Hope”
July 2007, Jonathan Swilley plead guilty to "Fetal Homicide" when he hit a car driven by Heather Brauner, who was hurt but survived the crash, killing her 4-1/2 mo. fetus. He was sentenced to 17-1/2 years.
The Family & Friends of James Barfield, Jr.
James was 22 yrs old. He was riding his bike when he was hit by Heather McCarty and lost his life. She was sentenced to 30 days home incarceration even though she pled guilty in May 2007 to 2nd degree manslaughter, dui – 1st offense, under the influence of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. She did apply for work release, however we do not know that outcome at the time of this writing.
The Family & Friends of John Vice
John was 31 years old.
On Nov. 27, 2007 he was killed by Sheila Whitler as he was walking down the street. She plead guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter on Dec. 17, 2009. She had a BAL of 0.17, with valium, ambieum, xanax, in her system.. She was sentenced to 7 years. She applied for Shock Probation and was denied on June 22, 2010. John's family disagree in the use of shock probation in a DUI death.
LaJohnea Vice (John is her husband’s brother)____________________________________________________________________________
The Family & Friends Carol Payton’s father-in-law
Carol Payton’s father-in-law was killed in 1986. His killer received shock probation after serving only 30 days. Carol’s husband found out about his release from prison on the news.
Carol Payton is from Louisville, KY_________________________________________________________________________________________
The Family & Friends of Freddy Browne
Freddy was 26 yrs old. He was killed by Paul Gorence on July 2, 2006. He was convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 22 yrs with possibility of parole in 4-l/2 yrs. As part of the plea agreement it was that he would not be able to apply for shock probation.
Less than 6 mos. He applied for shock probation, judge denied, however he lowered the sentence to 20 yrs.
Even though shock probation was not used, it is appalling and offensive for any family to have to be subjected to the prospects and the horrible reality of shock probation.
The reality is that Shock Probation in a DUI Death must come to an end. Pass legislation that will accomplish this in the 2011 Session.
April Browne, (Freddy's wife)
____________________________________________________________________________ The Family & Friends of Justin Cantrell & Ben McIntosh
They were killed by Rebecca Johnson who plead guilty to counts of manslaughter. The commonwealth recommended 20 yrs. Judge Geoffrey Morris gave her 5 yrs of probation.
_________________________________________________________________________________________The Family & Friends of Jackie Wright:
Jackie was 26 yrs old. Pieter Vanzijl was charged with manslaughter 2nd degree and DUI for her death in 2006. However, he had previous convictions: On May 1998 in Boone County, his 30 day sentence was set aside because he agreed to complete an alcohol education program. In January 2002, he wrecked his car trying to outrun the police and was convicted and sentenced to 3 years in prison for drunken driving and fleeing police. He did not go to prison he was released on shock probation. Still out on shock probation, he was arrested in Sept. 2003 in Cincinnati for speeding, driving without a license, and drunken driving. His probation was revoked and was sent to prison to serve his sentence in KY. However, Judge Patricia Summe granted shock probation 7 months later. He should have been sent to OH for the Cincinnati charges, but that did not happen. A warrant was issued for his arrest Jan. 2004 but was never served. HE KILLED JACKIE AUGUST 6, 2006.
The Family & Friends of Jonathan Gilbert:
Giving up a child to death is not natural a parent should die before their child dies. Giving up a child to such a careless act, such as another individual driving while under the influence of alcohol or drug use just adds insult to injury. Giving up any family member to this careless act should be unacceptable to all citizens around the world.
Believe me, this is the most traumatizing and the most devastating experience that a family could ever experience, we’ve been there. July will be five year since the death of our son and it feels like it happened yesterday. Everyday I wonder, Dear God will this hurt ever go away? A family member not only has to deal with the agonizing pain and the mind boggling thought of how could this happen, but within six months we had to face the Judicial contemplation of releasing this individual from jail back into the community to drive on the highways that I, my family and others would be traveling. This shouldn’t be happening. Then the day came for final sentencing after two year of court days and more court days and I thought finally maybe my family can rest. But before a year had ended and we could even get our mind settled we were facing again a request for Probation.
With the above being said, any release for Probation should not even be considered by the Justice System, the victim’s family should not have to face this. Not only is a family traumatized by the loss of a loved one but you are made to feel as if the innocent doesn’t count when such a request is being considered for the individual who made the choice to drive on our highways while intoxicated, knowing but not caring that the consequences of their behavior could take another person’s life. So, because they made that choice I feel they made the choice to give up any right to be probated. Our loved one who lost his/her life can’t get probated from death and allowed to live again in our community and with loved ones, so neither should the offender.
According to statistics at least 25% of the fatalities on Kentucky’s highways each year are contributed to alcohol use. That has been more that 200 lives lost each year for the past five years (that I’ve been tracking) because of this careless and neglectful act. These statistics show that stiffer penalties and harder consequences should be placed on those people who make the choice to drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Therefore, I plea with you please eliminate probation and have the offenders to serve the full length of his/her sentence.
Delana Kaye Gilbert (Jonathan's Mom)