Drunk Driver Who Killed Man to Serve 120 Days in Jail
Family lost 2 other members to another drunk driver 2 years earlier
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2014 11:29 AM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – In 2011, Leroy "Buddy" Bronson's wife and 11-year-old daughter were killed by a drunk driver. Last year, Bronson himself was killed by a different drunk driver. And on Friday, that second driver—25-year-old Ronald O'Kelly—received a suspended sentence that could see him spend just 120 days in jail, the Kansas City Star reports. Bronson, 57, was riding his motorcycle in Kansas City just after midnight on April 7, 2013, when O'Kelly, who ultimately pleaded guilty, hit him with his Ford F-150 after failing to stop at a red light. O'Kelly then fled the scene. "It’s unthinkable," says Bronson's stepson of the sentence. "It teaches other drunk drivers that if they get in a wreck—fatality or nonfatality—to just run and you will get a light sentence." The judge and prosecutors say they were limited in their sentencing ability by the evidence they had available—as WFSB points out, investigators could not prove O'Kelly's blood alcohol content at the time of the crash.

Cell phone records showed that O'Kelly was on his phone at the time of the accident, and witnesses said he had been drinking at a tavern earlier in the night and appeared intoxicated. But one potential witness—his girlfriend, who allegedly told her father that O'Kelly was drunk at the time—never testified, as O'Kelly married her, and Missouri law does not require spouses to testify in such cases. O'Kelly, who had a prior DUI conviction and who told the family he was "super sorry about what happened," was sentenced to seven years on a charge of involuntary vehicular manslaughter due to intoxication and four years on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, to be served concurrently. But as part of the plea deal, both sentences were suspended as O'Kelly serves a 120-day callback sentence—and if that goes without incident, he'll get probation instead of further jail time. The driver who killed Bronson's wife and daughter was in 2012 sentenced to 15 years.

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
user99
Jul 14, 2014 11:26 PM CDT
Kill someone and get 120 days, videotape a movie and get five years.
Lou Bernardo
Jul 14, 2014 9:36 PM CDT
It's who you know what determines a sentence for driving drunk. Some are locals who have connections and charges are dropped and never make it to court. It's just part of our corrupt ju$tice system.
Steven
Jul 14, 2014 7:15 PM CDT
The rate of traffic deaths in which drivers tested positive for non-alcohol drugs climbed from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010, according to the Columbia study. “If the current trends continue, non-alcohol drugs, such as marijuana, will overtake alcohol in traffic fatalities around 2020.”