A Crown Point man drew 22 years in prison Tuesday for the drunken driving deaths of two prominent Juneau residents and the injury of a third.
Michael Glaser, 44, entered guilty pleas Tuesday in Kenai Superior Court on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault stemming from the April 19 accident that killed Martin John Richard, 50, and Ladd E. Macaulay, 57, and injured Steven Gregory McGee, 49, all of Juneau.
Judge Jonathan Link sentenced Glaser to 30 years in prison with 15 years suspended for each murder count and eight years in prison with three years suspended for the assault count. He ordered Glaser to serve 10 years for each murder count and three years for the assault count concurrently, and to serve five years for each murder count and two years for the assault count consecutively. That complicated formula amounts to a sentence of 22 years in prison.
However, it appears Glaser could be eligible for parole after 14 years, said his attorney, John M. Murtagh. Link also sentenced Glaser to 10 years probation.
Glaser originally pleaded not guilty to all three charges. On Tuesday, though, he felt changing his pleas was "the right thing to do," Murtagh said.
"He wanted to accept responsibility for his actions," Murtagh said.
According to court documents, Glaser told the victims' families he is "very sorry for what has happened," and he "will never drink again and put (him)self in this position."
Glaser reportedly had a .258 blood-alcohol level, two-and-one-half times the legal limit, at the time of the accident.
Richard, Macaulay and McGee, three state of Alaska employees, were returning to Anchorage in a rented Toyota Camry after visiting peninsula hatcheries. Glaser was southbound on the Seward Highway in an older model Chevrolet crew cab. The pickup crossed the center line at Mile 37.5 Seward Highway, struck the Camry head on, and rolled on its side, trapping Glaser.
The Camry was shoved against a mountainside, trapping the three occupants. Richard and Macaulay were pronounced dead at the scene.
Richard was director of the Division of Investments for the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Macaulay was a loan officer with the division.
McGee and Glaser were injured. Glaser underwent ankle reconstruction and was arrested May 1, following his release from Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.
Murtagh said he argued during Tuesday's sentencing hearing that the mandatory 10-year sentence would be sufficient. Glaser already has been through residential treatment and offered to help Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Seward Police and other groups teaching about the possible consequences of drunken driving.
"He doesn't need to be in prison because he is a danger to the public or for rehabilitation," Murtagh said. "The only reason to put him in prison is for punishment or to deter the public."
According to court documents, though, John Wolfe, assistant district attorney, said Glaser had a blood alcohol of .247 two hours after the accident, and suggested Glaser's efforts at rehabilitation should be low on the list of criteria considered for sentencing.
"The most important was community condemnation and reaffirmation of societal norms," Wolfe said Wednesday. "The public strongly condemns people who drink and drive, then injure or kill people."
Deterring others from drinking and driving is the next most important consideration, Wolfe said, and a longer sentence might better catch the public's attention. The Legislature recently changed the minimum sentence for second-degree murder from five years to 10. Wolfe argued that Glaser should be sentenced to seven years for the assault, since that involved a deadly weapon.
"My argument was that the sentences should all be consecutive," he said.
The two 10-year minimum sentences plus the seven years for assault would total 27 years.
Murtagh said the sentence Glaser did receive is the most severe he is aware of in Alaska for a drunken driving fatality.
"I don't believe Mr. Glaser is the most serious offender," he said. "The theory is that people who drink and drive will get the message. I think that is a very tough use of anyone's life."
He said he has not yet seen Link's written judgment, and Glaser has not yet decided whether to appeal the sentence.
"If the sentence leads people not to drink and drive, it might be appropriate, but that's always speculative," Murtagh said.
Wolfe said Glaser is among the first to be sentenced under the recent changes to the law. Glaser made a bad decision and was well aware of the potential consequences. Glaser took two lives and hurt several others, he said.
Peninsula Clarion staff and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.