Parents 'appalled' at sentence in fatal crash
The parents of a 12-year-old Pleasant Hills girl killed in a drunken high-speed crash said a jail sentence of one to two years for the man responsible is preposterously light.
"I'm absolutely appalled. He gets one year for killing my daughter and crippling me," said Karl Wright, who was severely injured in the April 5, 2008, accident that killed his daughter Tia. "Obviously, no amount of time would satisfy me, but after one year, he'll be free and clear. Our family is sentenced for life."
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning on Wednesday sentenced Matthew Frank, 20, of Montgomery County, formerly of South Park, to the jail time plus eight years of probation after listening to more than an hour of pleas from Wright's family for a harsh sentence. The judge fined him $1,500 and ordered him to pay court costs.
Manning said he relied on the sentencing guidelines in imposing the sentence.
"There's nothing this court can do in this or any other case to properly compensate the victims for the horrific physical and emotional damage," Manning said.
Frank pleaded no contest in December to three counts of aggravated assault by vehicle and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter.
Frank sat with his head bowed and wiped tears away during the hearing. He told the judge he wished he could switch places with Tia.
"I've become a very religious person and a firm believer in divine intervention, and I believe Tia Wright saved my life and was sent here for that purpose," Frank told the judge.
Karl Wright was driving his daughter and her best friend, Taylor Childers, on Gill Hall Road in his pickup when Frank's GMC Envoy crossed the center line and slammed into them head-on at more than 70 mph, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Schulte said.
Childers described her graphic memories of the moments after the crash when she regained consciousness to find her best friend dead in her lap.
"I was covered in blood and glass. I woke up to sirens. I looked over and Mr. Wright was still unconscious," Childers said. "I saw the back of Tia's head on my left leg. That's the last time I saw my best friend.
"I couldn't sleep for months."
Childers suffered a concussion, a broken wrist and leg injuries. Karl Wright said he had to attend his daughter's funeral on a gurney and was forced to use a wheelchair for eight months because of injuries to his legs and arms.
Tia's mother, Cheri Wright, had pointed remarks for Frank.
"I wish you were never born, Matthew Frank," Wright said. "So what, Matthew Frank, are you going to do with your life for killing my daughter?"
Prosecutors said Frank was drinking and smoking marijuana in the hours before the crash. His blood alcohol level was 0.051 percent when he was tested after the wreck, Schulte said.
Frank's attorney, Patrick Thomassey, said if his client had been of legal drinking age, prosecutors wouldn't have been able to prove he was over 0.08 percent -- the limit for adults to drive.
"If you take that out of the equation, you have a horrible accident," Thomassey said. "That's what this was -- a tragic accident."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Home price gains slow for 6th-straight month
- Development plan helps Riverhounds Academy girls U15 team become national champs
- Liriano, Pirates beat Giants, inch closer to lead in NL Central
- Starkey: Would one big move kill Pirates’ future?
- Tech giants lead rush for profits in foreign countries
- Pirates inquire about Red Sox LHP Lester
- Steelers offensive linemen looking to build on strong 2013 finish
- Guido: Sujansky heads Plum Hall of Fame class of ’14
- Kittanning Elks turns into museum during Fort Armstrong fest
- McKeesport police arrest teen on gun charges
- Dying trees removed from Ford City park