Man gets one year for drunken driving fatality

Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) A man was sentenced to one year in prison for driving drunk and killing a man as he walked down a Hoonah highway.

Gerard White, 44, pleaded guilty Friday to drunken driving at a change of plea hearing in Juneau Superior Court.

He originally was charged with manslaughter, a felony, and reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. Both charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement between defense attorney David Mallet and District Attorney Rick Svobodny.

Victim Gary Smith's family said a year in prison isn't enough punishment for White.

''There's not one second of one day I don't think of my dad,'' Smith's only daughter, Jolene, 22, testified. ''He was the most nicest person in the whole world. He never bothered anybody.

''If the court gives Gerard White one year in prison, it's like slapping him on the wrist. It's like saying my dad's life meant nothing. But my dad's life meant the world to me. I don't know how to deal with this.''

White struck and killed Smith last December as he was walking down Garteeni Highway in Hoonah. An hour after the incident, White's blood alcohol level was 0.117 percent. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08 percent. The conviction was White's second for drunken driving.

White received the maximum for a drunk driving conviction. He also was sentenced to alcohol treatment, a three-year driver's license revocation and $5,075 in fines and court fees.

Had he been convicted of manslaughter, White could have received up to 20 years in prison and up to one year in prison for the reckless endangerment charge.

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