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Old 01-10-17, 04:41 PM   #1
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Driver only gets 60 days for killing cyclist

I'm just incredibly saddened that this guy only got 60 days in jail and 36 months of probation for running over a woman on a bicycle just outside the town I grew up in. He's the reason there are lots of 3 feet passing signs around that town now.

Man convicted of killing Washburn professor Glenda Taylor in crash receives 60 days in jail | The Topeka Capital-Journal

I understand he's remorseful and the accident has bothered him, but 60 days isn't much of a deterrent for others to watch out for people on bicycles.

BTW, that highway the accident occurred on is a two lane with barely any shoulder. My wife has prohibited me from riding on it, even though it's part of bicycle route 76. When I was a kid working in my dad's service station, we often had groups or just individual cross-country cyclists passing through town. But parts of it are very hilly and a car coming over a hill might not have time to react.
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Old 01-10-17, 06:27 PM   #2
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So you desire is to use the defendant as an example to scare other people into compliance then. That hardly appears to be the intent of imprisonment.
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Old 01-10-17, 06:57 PM   #3
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This demonstrates the problem facing judges when sentencing people who are basically OK, yet cause a death without intent or a felonious aggravating circumstance.

We have to accept, that unlike drunk driving, or other aggravating conditions, we're looking at something which is more by way of error, or lapse in judgement, and lacks the mens rea judges like to see in criminal court.

I agree that 60 days is short, but don't know that a longer sentence would serve any purpose. IMO we need to give judges more tools in terms of alternate sentencing, including things like Xyears of "weekend jail", large fines, long term compensation to their victims (imposed as a fine, so not insurable), or other measures that impose pain without being counterproductive.

If the law allowed, and if I were the judge (so it's purely hypothetical) I'd want to take away weekends and/or vacation time for a decently long period, while calling for recompense in the range that would be commensurate with child care in a divorce.

I know this doesn't meet many person's calls for "justice" but, IMO, jail for non-violent, otherwise OK members of society, doesn't work, and we need to start thinking out of the box.
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Old 01-10-17, 07:12 PM   #4
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I suspect the "real" problem here is... People having driver's licences without having the "skill" or the required, what's the word/words, oh, skill, to drive safely, something like when learning to shoot a gun, some people are "natural" and understand that pointing a gun at something is NOT done, ever, never, unless... you "want" to kill it/will kill whatever it is you are pointing it at ... JMO
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Old 01-10-17, 07:23 PM   #5
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So you desire is to use the defendant as an example to scare other people into compliance then. That hardly appears to be the intent of imprisonment.

Wrong. That is precisely the reason.
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Old 01-10-17, 07:34 PM   #6
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Did you guys go to the link, to see that the cause of the crash was due to a poor pass and violation of the 3 foot law...

This driver consciously made the decision to pass the cyclist... thus knew the cyclist was there, and chose his own priority over hers...

So yeah... 60 days for being an impatient driver...

Sorry, but in my mind, if you kill another road user... you lose your life long driving PRIVILEGE.

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Old 01-10-17, 07:50 PM   #7
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The willful nature of the accident does seem to me to call for a stiffer penalty. It wasn't just an accident. The driver made a decision to risk a human life merely for his own convenience.
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Old 01-10-17, 08:25 PM   #8
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That's exactly my point. It wasn't "I was driving along and she pulled out in front of me," it was "I didn't want to wait 10 seconds for the oncoming car to go by before passing the cyclist." Call it a mistake if you will, but it resulted in another person's death. Frankly I think it's just another incidence of someone in a motor vehicle thinking they have more right to the road than someone on a bicycle.

But no matter how you look at it, two months in jail is a very, very light sentence for causing someone's death.
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Old 01-10-17, 08:40 PM   #9
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... it was "I didn't want to wait 10 seconds for the oncoming car to go by before passing the cyclist." Call it a mistake if you will, but it resulted in another person's death. ....
Do you know the details of exactly how this occurred? By your own description, the road is narrow and sightlines poor. So, I don't know if this was a case of a driver trying to squeeze between a bike and oncoming traffic. Or simply one who came up and hit a bike from behind because he had poor judgement of speed and distance, or poor reflexes.

I'm not excusing the driver here, but 30,000 people are killed on our roads annually, and allowing for multiple deaths in single accidents or drivers dying in solo crashes, that means that there are approximately 10,000-15,000 people who caused a death on our roads last year, or something like 300,000 or more living "killers" out there.

I know we like to think that bicyclists are somehow better, or their deaths are a greater tragedy, but under the law, a life is a life, so does anybody propose we fill our jailhouses with all these "killers"?

These events are tragedies for all involved, and judges aren't all Solomons, who can find justice for all. I agree that 60 days seems light, but don't know what would be more appropriate. In any case, the sentence is usually part of the negotiated plea, so maybe we need to direct our criticism to the DAs.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:01 PM   #10
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The judge also has to take into consideration what the positive and negative effects of putting this guy in jail for a long period of time will be. With two autistic children to care for, it sounds like his wife and kids will be punished to a far greater extent than he will be, and the only positive effect is a deterrent or example to others. He isn't any more at risk of repeating the crime than he would be, say, with lifetime revoking of his drivers license and (for example) garnishing 20% of his wages in perpetuity to be paid as restitution. I'm certainly not suggesting their ought not to be consequences, but the consequences shouldn't simply be tossing him in the slammer for 20 years.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:11 PM   #11
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Am I hearing right? Are people seriously making a case for this POS?? Would there be ANY reluctance in putting him away for life, if... if... lets get serious about putting some teeth in the law, regardless of who breaks it or more innocent Americans will die. Needlessly. Before this thread got so surreal I was actually going to ask how we might go about crafting some safe passing legislation. Personally I think 3' passing statutes are a joke. We need maximum passing speed laws like exist in some European countries. We need a way to make the collision less lethal should a collision happen. And it needs to be enforced.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:28 PM   #12
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I'd find his statements of remorse and having learned something more credible if he hadn't gotten two speeding tickets (one for about 30 mph over) in the period between the fatal crash and his sentencing. That seems to indicate that he's likely to continue driving in a way that endangers other members of the public and that a more forceful message is needed in the form of judicial punishment.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:43 PM   #13
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Do you know the details of exactly how this occurred? By your own description, the road is narrow and sightlines poor. So, I don't know if this was a case of a driver trying to squeeze between a bike and oncoming traffic. Or simply one who came up and hit a bike from behind because he had poor judgement of speed and distance, or poor reflexes.

"Kidwell told investigators he was attempting to pass Taylor as they both moved eastbound when another truck approached going west, according to court documents The Capital-Journal obtained. He moved as far to the left as possible to avoid Taylor, “but that she swerved left when he attempted to pass her,” Crawford County Deputy Chris Hall wrote in the affidavits."

Certainly sounds to me like he just didn't want to wait a few seconds until it was safe. And trying to implicate the rider in the process .... I'm not finding words I can put into to print to describe my feelings about that.

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Old 01-10-17, 10:03 PM   #14
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^what if she actually did swerve left?

do you have dash cam or go pro footage? what actual evidence do you have to contradict the facts as stated?
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Old 01-10-17, 10:13 PM   #15
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Certainly sounds to me like he just didn't want to wait a few seconds until it was safe. And trying to implicate the rider in the process .... I'm not find words I can put into to print to describe my feelings about that.
He should have gotten ten years for the SWSS claim.
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Old 01-10-17, 10:30 PM   #16
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^what if she actually did swerve left?
What if she did. He never should have been anywhere near her. She wasn't toddling along at 8mph. She doesn't sound like someone likely to lose control, except that the pass was so close she panicked. I've been there. But the "swerve" in my case was maybe 6". But he knocked her 50'. It stinks. Any way you slice it. But go ahead. Make excuses for him. One of the comments on the news page opined that maybe cyclists don't belong on narrow roads. Maybe they don't. Maybe cyclists don't belong on the roads period. We should obtain some clarity on that. Either bicycles are legal road conveyances, or they are not. If they are, as is purported, then they should be treated as such. If Taylor had been driving a car, Tidwell would have been cited for a lot more than he was. A woman made a crazy pass of a driver on SR6 out my way and panicked another driver going in the same direction to her death. The driver of the passing car is serving serious jail time. I don't believe that the passing driver was able to claim that the driver of the other car "swerved" into her.

But... say you are right. Say the cyclist wanted to make the 6 o'clock news and become world famous in one go. Tidwell was just an unlucky foil. Why is he going to jail at all then? Either he is a good guy, a family man... or he isn't. If he is decent, and not guilty of anything, then this sentence is unjust. He should be formally acquitted, free to go. But if he is guilty, in even the smallest part, of causing the death of another human being, then the least the state could do... especially in light of his apparent unrepentance! The least someone in a position of authority should be able to do is revoke this POS's drivers license. Not suspend. Revoke. For at least 5 years. Then he starts all over. Learners permit, drivers ed, road test. The whole nine.
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Old 01-11-17, 12:13 PM   #17
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Do you know the details of exactly how this occurred? By your own description, the road is narrow and sightlines poor. So, I don't know if this was a case of a driver trying to squeeze between a bike and oncoming traffic. Or simply one who came up and hit a bike from behind because he had poor judgement of speed and distance, or poor reflexes.
Yes, where the accident happened it is relatively flat. The highway in question is a 2 lane road, no shoulder to speak of. The driver was going to pass the cyclist but was meeting another vehicle coming the other way at the same time. He tried to squeeze between the cyclist and the oncoming vehicle with disastrous results rather than slow down, wait a few seconds for the other car to pass, then pass with a wide margin.

It should be noted that the driver got two speeding tickets in the time frame between the accident and his trial, however the judge refused to allow that in as evidence. I'm not saying that he's a reckless driver, but it's been something like 20 years since I got a speeding ticket.
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Old 01-11-17, 12:20 PM   #18
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It should be noted that the driver got two speeding tickets in the time frame between the accident and his trial, however the judge refused to allow that in as evidence. I'm not saying that he's a reckless driver, but it's been something like 20 years since I got a speeding ticket.
I've been driving for 48 years and have never received a speeding ticket. I've never been one that speeds excessively just because. My sister has long referred to me as "grandpa" due to my penchant for not exceeding the speed limit.

This is just another example of a motorist being in a hurry, driving aggressively, and causing the death of a cyclist.

I have little sympathy for him. Was saving 10 seconds a fair trade for taking a human life?
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Old 01-11-17, 12:21 PM   #19
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The least someone in a position of authority should be able to do is revoke this POS's drivers license. Not suspend. Revoke. For at least 5 years. Then he starts all over. Learners permit, drivers ed, road test. The whole nine.
I agree. We should have a law where if someone is found at fault for causing the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle, they should have their license revoked for 5 years. And I do mean at fault, not a case of a careless driver pulling out in front of a semi and losing their life, or someone crossing the street without looking, I mean actual screwups like this one which causes the death of someone else. That's the whole reason we have driver's licenses, to ensure that people operating motor vehicles don't cause the death of someone else or cause property damage. But too many people in this country see driving as a right rather than a privilege, and it's unlikely the laws will ever change.
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Old 01-11-17, 12:23 PM   #20
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I've been driving for 48 years and have never received a speeding ticket. I've never been one that speeds excessively just because. My sister has long referred to me as "grandpa" due to my penchant for not exceeding the speed limit.
Well that one was my one & only, I was about two hours into a 20 hour drive home halfway across the country, and I wanted to get home. So yeah, I was speeding a bit, paid my fine and typically drive at the speed limit now. But never would I ever try to pass a cyclist on a two lane road with another vehicle coming the other way.
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Old 01-11-17, 12:58 PM   #21
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Yes, where the accident happened it is relatively flat. The highway in question is a 2 lane road, no shoulder to speak of. The driver was going to pass the cyclist but was meeting another vehicle coming the other way at the same time. He tried to squeeze between the cyclist and the oncoming vehicle with disastrous results rather than slow down, wait a few seconds for the other car to pass, then pass with a wide margin.

It should be noted that the driver got two speeding tickets in the time frame between the accident and his trial, however the judge refused to allow that in as evidence. I'm not saying that he's a reckless driver, but it's been something like 20 years since I got a speeding ticket.
Thanks for that. I understand not allowing the ticket in at trial, but the judge should have considered it at sentencing since it showed the driver hadn't learned anything.

But judges find it hard to sentence "straight" citizens to long jail terms. This is why I wish there were more alternatives available. If, for example, there were a weekend jail option, the judge might have sentenced him to more total time, say 10o-150 weekends to be served during the probation period. Also given that the sentence was so light, the judge could have lengthened the probation, and imposed more conditions.

Likewise we need to allow judges to impose long term financial penalties. Consider; if in a moment of careless extra marital sex you produce a life, it could cost you 10-20% of your income (or more) for 20 years, yet if you carelessly take a life, insurance covers you and there are usually no long term repercussions. Does that make sense?
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Old 01-11-17, 01:27 PM   #22
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Thanks for that. I understand not allowing the ticket in at trial, but the judge should have considered it at sentencing since it showed the driver hadn't learned anything.

But judges find it hard to sentence "straight" citizens to long jail terms. This is why I wish there were more alternatives available. If, for example, there were a weekend jail option, the judge might have sentenced him to more total time, say 10o-150 weekends to be served during the probation period. Also given that the sentence was so light, the judge could have lengthened the probation, and imposed more conditions.

Likewise we need to allow judges to impose long term financial penalties. Consider; if in a moment of careless extra marital sex you produce a life, it could cost you 10-20% of your income (or more) for 20 years, yet if you carelessly take a life, insurance covers you and there are usually no long term repercussions. Does that make sense?
The reparations are handled in a civil trial, and unlike a child welfare payment the debt can continue for your lifespan, and is very difficult to bankrupt out of. So the mechanism is in place, and at a much lower standard of guilt than anything in a criminal case.
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Old 01-11-17, 01:28 PM   #23
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Does that make sense?
Not any more sense than people getting far longer sentences for simple possession of marijuana, but that's a political debate I don't want to get into.
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Old 01-11-17, 02:08 PM   #24
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The reparations are handled in a civil trial, and unlike a child welfare payment the debt can continue for your lifespan, and is very difficult to bankrupt out of. So the mechanism is in place, and at a much lower standard of guilt than anything in a criminal case.
Yes, reparations are a civil matter, but usually are settled within the limits of the insurance policy because pursuing greater penalties is costly and often counter-productive. Moreover, you have it backward re civil judgements and child support payments. The former can be liquidated through bankruptcy, but child support can only end with proof of inability to pay, and remains open until the child reches adulthood.

But, when I spoke about a long term financial penalty, I wasn't thinking of reparations. I was thinking of a hefty fine structured to be collectible.

I don't think there's much disagreement that the penalty for causing a death through willful disregard of safety should be stiffer (though that would depend on the guidelines for the crime). The problem is in structuring criminal penalties that meet two standards. 1- that judges are willing to impose them and 2- that they aren't counterproductive to overall societal considerations.

BTW- while I'm usually not the one screaming for stiff sentences here, this case does call for more, I just don't know how much more would make sense. However, if I were the judge and the sentencing report included the speeding tickets after the event, I would have found a way to send a message that the defendant needs to assign a more realistic value to his time.
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Old 01-11-17, 02:26 PM   #25
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Yes I misstated the child care, my thought was that after the child is grown, then the support stops, whereas a judgment never does. Some/many/most States do not allow any "easy discharge of judgment debt for this kind of thing I believe, certainly not as easy as credit card debt or medical expenses. Plus I for one would rather see any proceeds of a fine go to the victims family rather than the various government coffers. I agree we really need to come up with forms of punishment that not only punish behaviors but act to discourage future similar acts, and don't cost us taxpayers 30k + per year to lock them up for long sentences. BTW Looks like NYC is $168,000 per prisoner/yr!
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