A Woodstock man received the maximum sentence Monday for causing a car collision while intoxicated that led to the death of a 29-year-old Westminster man.
William Charles pleaded guilty to homicide by motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol in the Sept. 23, 2017 crash that killed Christopher Ryan Fleck.
Judge Thomas Stansfield sentenced Charles to three years incarceration, the maximum for that charge.
In court Monday, Charle also pleaded guilty to an unrelated burglary charge and was sentenced to five years suspended sentence, followed by five years supervised probation. Charles had a Westminster address when charged with burglary and a Manchester address when indicted for vehicular homicide.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Adam Wells read victim impact statements from members of Fleck’s family, including his wife Erica — who was in the truck with him and was also a victim of the collision — as well as his siblings.
William D. Charles Jr., 39, of the 3300 block of Main Street in Manchester, was indicted by a grand jury on six charges in relation to the death of Christopher Fleck, which occurred in the Sept. 23 accident.
In the letter Wells read, Erica Fleck wrote that grief had infiltrated every part of her life.
“At 28, you shouldn't have to write a eulogy for a person you committed to spend the rest of your life with,” she wrote.
Christopher Fleck’s mother and father, Carol and Brian, spoke in person at the hearing directly to Charles.
“Every decision each one of us makes in this life affects other people,” Carol Fleck said.
She said his family would suffer from missing him while he was in jail. She implored him to not let Christopher’s life be in vain.
“Make a change in your life,” she said to Charles.
Charles also spoke during the hearing, but had trouble doing so, appearing to become emotional after hearing the victim impact statements.
“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” he told Fleck’s parents.
Before handing down his sentence, Stansfield said this type of case is among the most difficult the court oversees.
“Justice would require a power that the court does not have. That is to restore a life,” he said.
He encouraged Fleck’s family to continue to seek solace in their faith.
Wells read an agreed-upon statement of facts of the events the day the crash occurred.
Charles was traveling east on Old Taneytown Road while the Flecks were traveling west. Charles was impaired by alcohol, and when he approached their truck, he crossed the center yellow line and the vehicles collided head-on.
Christopher Fleck became entrapped in the vehicle. EMS pronounced him deceased at the scene. Erica Fleck was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
A Maryland State Police trooper spoke to Charles at the scene, where the trooper observed that he had glassy eyes and smelled like alcohol. Charles was transported to Carroll Hospital where he refused a blood test, but was diagnosed as being intoxicated while receiving treatment.
“This was a senseless and tragic crime that could have been prevented,” Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said according to a news release from his office on Monday. “My office will continue to aggressively prosecute these crimes to make the streets of Carroll County a safer place.”
During the impact statements, each of Fleck’s siblings spoke about him and the influence he had as a brother and someone to look up to, as well as the overwhelming shadow of grief over the holidays and special occasions that followed the day he was killed.
His younger brother was married about a year after that day, and Fleck was not there to be in the wedding, his mother said. The family held a photo of Christopher Fleck during the ceremony.
Erica and Christopher Fleck had celebrated their wedding anniversary 18 days before the crash.
His younger brother had looked forward to going deer hunting with him when he returned from his military service. Now he goes hunting alone, but carries an item of his brother’s with him on each trip.