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Was Thursday's Vehicular Homicide Sentence Fair?

The sentencing of a local woman to two-and-a-half years in jail Thursday after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide outraged family members of the victim. Where do you stand?

The family and friends of a Danvers teen killed in a car accident in Salem earlier this summer had some harsh words for the drunken driver who was behind the wheel following her sentencing in Salem District Court Thursday afternoon.

Angelique Griffin, 25, of Salem, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of vehicular homicide and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A judge sentenced her to serve two-and-a-half years in prison with a six-month home confinement, according to WHDH.

The passenger in her vehicle, Dillon Renard, 19, was killed on June 16, when the PT Cruiser Griffin was driving crashed into a parked tow truck outside All Star Collision Center on Boston Street.

Griffin's lawyer argued that the guilt she will have to live with for the rest of her life will be a far worse punishment than any jail sentence the judge could have handed down.

Thursday's sentence outraged Renard's relatives, who appeared in court to plead for a harsher punishment and were escorted out while shouting expletives at Griffin and telling her they'd be waiting for her when she go out, according to WHDH.

So - we have to ask - what do you think of the sentence the judge handed down? Were you pleased with the two-and-a-half jail term? Do you agree with the victim's family in thinking the punishment should have been harsher?

Let us know how you feel in the comments section below.

god November 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM
It was fair...have you been to jail.if you have most times you learn your lesson the second the door closes ...trust me two years is no two years free time it feel like forever...yes the victim is dead but I know this girl did not wish harm on him..accidents happen even under influence...and for family to be outraged...ask your self how many party's did you make it home safe ...but were drunk or buzzed..I bet 3/4 of your family....she sorry.....
gene November 16, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I agree the sentence was fair. This was a first time offender. Don't blame the judge.
John Merrett November 16, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Liberal politicians appoint liberal judges who administer liberal justice.
John Merrett November 16, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Even the wording of the question, "Was the decision FAIR?", implies liberal bias. Ask the family who lost a loved one because of someones reckless negligence, was the decision FAIR.
Michael November 16, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Yes but by using that rationale you're passing judgement based on an emotional bias, which is certainly not fair.
Nancy Santos-Pacheco November 16, 2012 at 03:30 PM
A man I know was sentenced to 5 years in prison for killing a young man in a drunk driving accident. I say look at passed cases with similar circumstances to judge how fair this sentence is.
Bill November 16, 2012 at 03:55 PM
It does seem a bit light, but note to self = don't get in a car with a clearly drunk driver
Chris Helms (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 04:53 PM
In this case, the driver was a first time offender. But it put me in mind of that excellent investigative series the Globe did last November on the overall leniency shown by Massachusetts judges in DUI cases: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/10/30/for_drunk_drivers_a_habit_of_judicial_leniency/
Maggi Smith-Dalton November 16, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Not harsh enough. Think about the fact that...You are on the road with these people. And causing death while breaking the law seems it should double the max. sentence for both.
Nancy November 16, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Accidents are accidents.....no amount of jail time will bring this young man back to his family.....no amount of time will pass that this woman will not be haunted by this accident. Nancy
john November 16, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I have a friend who is a police officer in another Ma city. He is in court daily as a expert for all kinds of crimes. He tells me that our court system (judges) generally go light on almost every offender. Police get discouraged from going after criminals that they feel will result in little or no punishment. In this case,it came down to a deal that involved her changing her plea to guilty. The district attorney basicly gave her a second chance based on that and the fact of first offense. It seems like a small price to pay for being guilty of causing a person to die.
gene November 16, 2012 at 09:45 PM
If there was a 100% conviction rate do you think the Globe would even bothered to research it?
John Merrett November 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM
This was no "accident", it was vehicular manslaughter and a young man is dead. If the punishment does not fit the crime, ...and it is a CRIME,...where is the deterrent to stop other from taking innocent lives?
manda November 16, 2012 at 11:11 PM
So apparently its the law now that people can drink and drive now. She deserves to at least have gotten 5 to 10 years and loss of license.. I've known Dillon for a few months and he was the nicest guy that I've met. I'm in rage cause of how this court system crap works. I'm sorry for his family who has to go through this heart beak ESP around the holidays. I mean look what happened last year around this time with the murder in this town and that person is never seeing day light again. I think the court system gives a little more lea way to females than they do with men I think it should be the same. more or less were all humans. I'm discussed with this whole situation. Only the God die young. Rest easy Dillon.
manda November 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Good
Mike November 16, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I have a friend who is lawyer in Essex County and according to him, most of the judges he dealt with were appointed by conservatives so I'm not sure what to believe anymore. So where on the internet can we find a list of current judges in the state and who appointed them? I think 2 and a half years would be somewhat fair if she actually had to serve the entire sentence. Good behavior should get you things like computer access, educational classes, and the gym, not a reduced sentence. IMO.
John Merrett November 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Conservative is a 4 letter word in Massachusetts. There has not been a Conservative in Mass. since John Kennedy.
Sandy Rose November 17, 2012 at 03:53 AM
There is a BIG difference between an innocent victim and a victim. In 2003 16 yr old Trista Zinck and her boyfriend were walking home when a drunk William White struck them killing her and seriously injuring him. He fled the scene and was later apprehended by police. In 2004 he was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail. Trista and Neil were truly innocent victims and NEVER did either of their families verbally attack, threaten or slander Billy White. After drinking and partying together until 3 am19 year old Dillon chose to get in a car and leave with Angelique, in fact he drove them to the store then they switched. Regardless of how devastating the outcome of his choice was he still has to be held accountable to some extent. His family has refused to accept that and instead has chosen to continuously attack Ms. Griffin, her family, the tow truck driver and now the judge. Ms. Griffin has accepted responsibility for her part since the night of the accident, she is serving the maximum penalty allowed under the jurisdiction of the district court, and her sentence certainly will not end when she is released from prison. Yet Mr. Renards family is still not satisfied, they continue to publicly slander her for her religious beliefs, occupation, looks and her role as a parent which are all irrelevant to the role she played in his death. His family should be thankful nobody has stooped to their level and aired out their dirty laundry. Adversity does not create character, it defines it
Edgar Allan Bro November 17, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'd like to point out that prison is a CORRECTIONAL facility, not a penal facility. The goal is rehabilitation. Secondly, this was an accident. This woman did not kill in cold blood nor did she run from authorities, moreover the passenger willingly got into a car with a drunk driver. While it might engulf you in rage that this woman isn't a lifer, know that the law operates on objectivity, not emotion. In short, this sentence is fair.
gene November 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Justice should never be based on emotion or vengence
gene November 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Great points!
Pat November 17, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Sandy Rose: Very well said. Unfortunately Dillon does bear some responsibility as he chose to be in the car with her. I do hope also they are holding responsible the tow truck company as they had that flatbed illegally parked. I can imagine it would be difficult to see the edge of thr bed of that truck under the best of circumstances.
Sean Ward November 17, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Nancy, it's not about bringing their son back. It's about putting this woman away so that she doesn't kill my son.
Sean Ward November 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Edgar, correctional facilities have a long standing national reputation for correcting nothing. Secondly, this was not an accident. She drank then decided to operate a vehicle. This is negligent homicide. I'm less interested in the jail sentence and more interested in how soon they will let her back on the road to do this again. Also proven is that taking away ones license doesn't keep them off the road especially when they get drunk again. I'd rather see her in a minimum security facility for 5 - 10 years just to keep her off the road. Her boyfriend got a life sentence without parole.
Sean Ward November 17, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Spoken like a true liberal. The specifics of this at that case aside the penalty is too light and that is why it keeps happening.
Sean Ward November 17, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Don't compare her to me. I've never operated a vehicle under the influence ever. It's not an accident. It's negligent homicide. Nobody forced the booze down her throat and nobody forced her to drive the vehicle while drunk. Accidents are when someone is doing everything right and something bad happens anyway. This was no accident.
John Merrett November 17, 2012 at 07:18 PM
You're drunk and you get behind the wheel and kill someone, whether they are 2 feet or 200 feet away, it's vehicular homicide and YOU are responsible,- no one else, not some bar, not the person who made the car or the person who chose to ride with you, YOU ARE GUILTY.
Pat November 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
This was NOT an accident. Upon taking that first drink she knew driving would be wrong yet choses to do it anyway and not make other arraingments. She knew the difference between right and wrong and she CHOOSE wrong, therefore, it was NOT an accident. If drunk drivers are not held accountable things will never change.
john November 17, 2012 at 08:28 PM
In 1975, as a high school student, my class took a field trip to Walpole State Prison. We saw every aspect of life inside prison and it left an image in my mind that last's to this day. It was not like scared straight it was a chance to view prison like you would view a museum but we did have exposure to prisoners and viewed their cells. It changed my way of thinking with regard to doing things that could result in that kind of life.I think all high school students should have the chance to see what I saw that day in 1975. It could save lives.
Tammie King November 18, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I don't think it's right to drink and drive. I think people make bad decisions every day. Unfortunately, you can't catch them all and people get away with bad decisions every day. The law was written as it is for a reason. It's as fair as it can be. I don't know the family personally but I do know a little history. Personally, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. How would this same family have reacted had the accident happened earlier in the night when Dillon was driving? I'm clearly not judging, just hoping to help. If they could put themselves in the other persons shoes for a minute, they may begin their own healing.. Good luck and God Bless!

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