And therein lies the problem. Both were charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, but for reasons that defy sense, state law differentiates between manslaughter committed by car and manslaughter committed in any other way.
Vehicular manslaughter provides for no more than seven years in prison, but take away the vehicle and the penalty can reach 15 years and demands a minimum of one-to-three years. Yet, a drunk who gets behind the wheel is acting in a way universally known to risk death; it’s one of the predictable consequences. That means it’s not an accident. There’s not enough of a distinction between the crimes to evaluate them differently.
Wruck was sentenced to the maximum allowed, a term that Kloch recognized as inadequate: “You deserve the worst that this court can provide,” he told Wruck at sentencing. “If the law allowed me to, I would increase your sentence 10 times.”
He would have deserved it. After running a stop sign and crashing into Pazamickas’ car, Wruck fled the scene and called 911, falsely reporting that his sport utility vehicle had been stolen. It was only by good fortune that his depravity was recorded by a nearby security camera.
By contrast, Allen pulled over immediately, was stricken with grief over what she had done and waited for police to arrive. The crime was the same, but the circumstances afterward warranted consideration from the judge.