A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Monday to serve one year of incarceration for driving under the influence and causing a collision that took the life of a Manchester man last March.
Bruce Kehr, 63, of East Berlin, Pennsylvania, took a plea to one count of criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle or vessel during a hearing Monday, Jan. 7, before Judge Thomas Stansfield in Carroll County Circuit Court.
Stansfield sentenced Kehr to three years incarceration with all but one year suspended to be served in the Carroll County Detention Center. Upon release, he will serve five years probation.
Robert Martin, 82, died the day after the March 17 collision, which took place less than a mile from his home.
Stansfield said he regretted that the court had no power to bring back Martin.
“If it could, that would be its first order of business,” Stansfield said.
The prosecution had asked for the harshest sentence allowed under Maryland sentencing guidelines, which is three years.
After witnessing the crash, two witnesses stopped to assist. They spoke to Kehr who said he had fallen asleep at the wheel and had been drinking alcohol prior to driving. Kehr was transported to WellSpan York Hospital with injuries, according to the statement.
Kehr agreed to a blood test, which found his blood-alcohol content to be .16, according to the statement, twice the legal limit.
Martin was alert and responsive following the collision and returned home. The next morning, he was found to be deceased in his home. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of his death was brain bleeding caused by the crash.
Martin’s daughter read a statement expressing the impact of losing her father. She said Kehr would never understand the impact on her family of having their father taken from them because of the actions of someone else and hoped he would think of the life he’d taken every day. She did not believe that the sentence would be enough.
Speaking with profound emotion, she said that she may have been able to accept if the crash had been an accident. To learn that the crash was the result of drunken driving, she said, “that I do not understand at all, and I will never accept it.”
She described her father as a hardworking farmer who worked from sunup to sundown even at the age of 82. His death came while she and her siblings were mourning their mother, who had died just months before.
On behalf of Kehr, defense attorney Matthew J. Chalker submitted letters of character witness to the court written by Kehr’s pastor, friends and family. Kehr is currently undergoing alcohol treatment, he said.
Kehr addressed the court to say that he had committed himself to a life of sobriety.
“Perhaps sharing my story will help someone else avoid [the decision to drive after drinking],” he said, adding that he hoped the conditions of his detention would allow him to continue volunteering with the church and caring for his mother in some capacity.
Speaking directly to Martin’s family members who were present in the courtroom, he said, “I will spend the rest of my life haunted by taking the life of someone you care for so much.”