In a Jan. 30 press release, Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III announced that Milton resident Gavin J. Staulters, 23, was sentenced earlier in the day before the Hon. Jerry J. Scarano in Saratoga County Court to 2-6 years in a state correctional facility for his conviction in Saratoga County Court to Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a Class D felony. In addition, the Court ordered a mandatory license revocation, as well as a three-year conditional discharge consecutive to his state prison term requiring Staulters to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he owns or operates once his prison sentence is over.
Staulters had previously pleaded guilty and admitted he was operating a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition on July 7, 2012 when he crossed onto the shoulder of West Milton Road, then struck and ultimately caused the death of Kari M. Liedel, 14. Liedel would have started her freshman year at Ballston Spa High School this year.
A victim impact statement was read by the decedent’s mother, Sarah Liedel, who said while she wished the sentence could have been longer, she understood the parameters of the law regarding sentencing. She also said she did not want Kari’s friend, who was an eyewitness to the crime, to be put through a trial and hoped the conclusion of the case might allow everyone to begin the healing process. She indicated Kari’s father, Bruce Campbell, whose statement she read on his behalf, was unhappy the defendant was still posting Facebook photos showing himself drinking and partying while he has been claiming to take responsibility for his conduct and had changed his behavior.
“While no amount of time will ever bring back Kari, whose life was taken at the age of 14 by a drunk driver, 2 to 6 years is an appropriate sentence given the present available sentencing range,” Murphy said. “What the family and I hope is that the NYS Legislature will seriously consider enhancing the penalties for the crimes of Vehicular Assault and Vehicular Manslaughter up to maximums of 5 to 15 or 8 to 25 years, depending upon the facts and circumstances.”
The facts of the case showed that Staulters was driving southbound on West Milton Road in the Town of Milton on a straightaway, while drunk, when he suddenly crossed the fog line onto the side of the right shoulder where the victim and her friend were standing. Staulters killed Liedel and narrowly missed the other girl, who was standing in the grass just off the shoulder. Witnesses called 911 and ran to the scene of the crash.