Kenai judge rules driver who killed 2, hurt 1 could be released after 9 years

Posted: Wednesday, July 03, 2002

A Kenai Peninsula judge has reduced the sentence for the man whose drunken driving resulted in the deaths of two Juneau men and serious injury to a third Juneau man.

Kenai Superior Court Judge Jonathan H. Link on Monday reduced Michael J. Glaser's sentence to 22 years with nine years suspended. Glaser had appealed Link's original sentence, which was 55 years in prison with 33 years suspended.

Glaser will be eligible for release after about nine years in prison if he behaves well there.

On April 19, 2000, Glaser, of Crown Point, was driving drunk on the Seward Highway when his truck crossed the centerline and collided with a car carrying three Juneau men, authorities said.

The car's driver, Martin Richard, 50, and a passenger Ladd Macaulay, 57, were killed. Another passenger, Steven McGee, was seriously injured in the wreck.

Glaser was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.258 percent -- about 2 1/2 times the legal limit at the time, authorities said.

Glaser was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault. He appealed the original sentence as excessive, and the appeals court agreed, sending it back to Judge Link for review.

Cindy Cashen, Macaulay's daughter and an outspoken member of the Juneau Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the new sentence left her feeling "dead inside."

"I feel like I did when Dad was killed," Cashen said. "Judge Link has hurt us as much as Michael Glaser."

Under the judge's new ruling, Glaser was given two 22-year sentences for the second-degree murder convictions and one seven-year sentence for first-degree assault. All are to be served simultaneously.

Cashen said Glaser should serve a separate sentence for each life taken in the accident.

"Apparently you can kill a busload of children and get 10 years in prison," she said.

Kenai Assistant District Attorney John Wolfe, who represented the state in the case, said Link lowered the original sentence because of precedents set by other drinking-and-driving cases in which the people convicted received lighter sentences than Glaser's.

But Wolfe said those cases were different because the defendants were convicted of manslaughter, a charge defined by criminally negligent behavior. Glaser, on the other hand, was convicted of second-degree murder, a more serious charge defined by a mental state of reckless indifference.

The longest sentence handed down in those cases was a 19-year prison term. Glaser would have served up to 22 years under his original sentence.

Glaser's attorney, John Murtagh, said the judge partly based his decision on Glaser's potential for rehabilitation and ability to show that he would not be a future danger to the public.

"He has done more outreach than anyone in the state of Alaska in his position," Murtagh said, noting his client's participation in a state trooper video on the hazards of drinking and driving, his work teaching safety and first aid at Seward High School and his treatment for alcoholism since his conviction.

Murtagh said that in such cases it's important that the judge look at factors other than the fact that lives were lost.

"It isn't addressing the problem to demonize people who are drinking and driving and in fatal accidents," Murtagh said. "They have to evaluate the whole man."

Timothy Inklebarger is a reporter for the Juneau Empire.

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