Friday, August 27, 2010

Editorial: Justice served, too gently?

From Tuesday's Greensboro News-Record:
It’s hard not to question the relatively gentle sentence rendered Tuesday in the case of a hit-and-run driver who struck and killed a Summerfield cyclist.

After all, she not only hit and instantly killed 55-year-old David Sherman, but turned and drove away and, when asked about the smashed windshield on her Dodge Durango, said she’d hit a deer.

Eden resident Grayson Dawson, 48, had been driving without a license.

She was under the influence of medications that could have made her dizzy or drowsy. She admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

A forensic analysis says she made a U-turn and revisited the site of the crash before driving on to Rockingham County.

And she seemed intent on not owning up to her actions until she was arrested for them.

That’s why the 14- to 17-month prison sentence she received from Guilford County Superior Court Judge Lindsay R. Davis seemed wholly predictable, if inadequate, given the nature and circumstances of her crime.

Dawson said in court that she had not realized she had hit a person until she was told so by authorities. Because she returned to the crash site before driving off, some may find that hard to believe. Either way, the fact remains she knowingly took the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of medications and without a driver’s license.

Don’t blame the judge in this case. Dawson had pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run causing a death, misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and driving without a license. She’d had no prior criminal convictions. According to the state’s structured sentencing guidelines, she received the punishment prescribed by law.

Lawmakers should consider harsher sentences in such cases, which may provide a stiffer deterrent to motorists who refuse to share the road with cyclists and are even overtly hostile toward them.

The rest of us, meanwhile, can honor the memory of David Sherman by taking greater care, and showing greater kindness, on the road.

Here's an early story about the hit-and-run. Dawson's mugshot is on the right.

I'm sending this blog post to my state Senator and asking that tougher sentences be considered in egregious death cases like this.

Aug. 31 follow-up: I received this note from my state Senator:  

"Clearly it is a tragic case.  I've forwarded your message to the lawyers in the Research Division to get me more information on the structured sentencing in this type of case."

1 comment:

bullcitybiker said...

Wow. And how much of those 14-17 months will she actually serve? I'm writing my state representatives too.