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Breyfogle gets 81-month sentence

July 26, 2008
By Rae Kruger

MARSHALL - Judge George Harrelson was asked to give mercy in his sentence of David C. Breyfogle on Friday, but Harrelson said "I can't do that."

"I think what I can do is give justice," Harrelson said in Lyon County District Court in Marshall.

Harrelson sentenced Breyfogle to nearly seven years in prison on a criminal vehicular homicide charge for the Feb. 29 hit-and-run death of Norma Traen, 72, of Taunton.

Breyfogle, of Taunton, could serve two-thirds of that sentence in prison and one-third on supervised release if he serves with good behavior.

Family members of Traen said in a statement they were pleased with the sentence and hoped it would bring closure to the family.

"The sentence is too harsh," Eva Breyfogle, Breyfogle's mother, said after the hearing.

Breyfogle and his family members found themselves in a different setting in court Friday than in 1999 when David Breyfogle's father, Gary Breyfogle, died when he was hit by a vehicle in Taunton in a case cited by David Breyfogle's lawyer in court.

Breyfogle's lawyer, Stephen Ferrazzano, referred to the similar death of Gary Breyfogle when he asked Harrelson for grace and mercy in the sentence.

Ferrazzano cited the May 2000 court sentence given to Shawn M. Lozinski, then 23, of Taunton, the man convicted of killing Breyfogle's father Gary Breyfogle. The presumptive sentence was 48 months, and Lozinski was given two years in a sentence where grace and mercy was shown, Ferrazzano said.

"We've been on both sides of it," Eva Breyfogle said about the similar deaths.

She and other family members declined to comment specifically on the conviction and sentence in Gary Breyfogle's death.

In what Harrelson said was compelling testimony, Traen's family members read or had their victim impact statements read in court.

The victim impact statements described Breyfogle as a man without remorse who committed a senseless and avoidable act.

"Who would just leave someone on the side of the road to die?" Traen's daughter Carol Kimlinger of White Bear Lake said in her statement.

"Not only did (Breyfogle) drive drunk and caused her death but he left her there," Traen's daughter Michelle Traen said in her statement read by Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said.

While family members said they have been taught to forgive people, it would be difficult to forgive a man who has shown no remorse.

Breyfogle has shown remorse, his family and a friend said after the hearing.

"(Traen's) family don't know what he's feeling," said Melissa Breyfogle, Breyfogle's sister.

"He's shown remorse. I've sat down with David, one-on-one, and we've had conversations about it. He's remorseful," his friend Brent McMahon said.

Breyfogle had pleaded guilty in June to a charge of criminal vehicular homicide.

Maes had requested the maximum sentence of 81 months because of Breyfogle's past history of driving while impaired and driving without a license.

Traen's family lost a mother, grandmother, a person others could count on to help out or give advice to or to bring joy to an event, family members said.

"The community lost a dedicated volunteer," Kimlinger said of her mother.

Breyfogle acknowledged the loss the Traen family has suffered in a letter read in court.

"It makes me sick," Breyfogle said in his letter of how a "single act of negligence" on his part caused the death of a mother, grandmother and sister.

Breyfogle takes responsibility for the incident, but he and his family said after the hearing the system had failed him in prior attempts to receive treatment for alcohol.

"I had asked for help after (an intoxicated driving incident) in 2004," Breyfogle said after the hearing. But since he had maintained sobriety for nine months, the court system wouldn't provide treatment and his insurance wouldn't pay either, Breyfogle said. "It was something I couldn't afford," he said of treatment.

Nora McCoy of Tracy, Traen's sister, said in her victim impact statement she wanted Breyfogle to serve a long sentence and wanted him to think of the results of his actions. McCoy also wanted something else for Breyfogle.

"I hope you will get the help you will need to turn yourself around," McCoy said.

"May God be with you and help you."



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