A Rogue River man with a history of drunk driving and traffic tickets for unsafe behavior was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for second-degree manslaughter and driving under the influence of intoxicants following a crash that killed a woman.
Richard Shawn Stocke, 46, of the 400 block of Earhart Road entered no contest pleas to the charges Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court. While he didn't admit guilt, the no contest pleas carry the same legal sanctions as guilty pleas.
"I just have a hard time remembering anything," Stocke said.
As part of a plea agreement, other charges against Stocke were dismissed, his driver's license was revoked for life and he was ordered to pay restitution that will be determined.
Defense lawyer Alyssa Bartholomew said Stocke remembers nothing about the incident and appears to have suffered brain damage from the crash.
On the night of July 5, Stocke and passenger Darlene Nichole Harris, 37, were ejected from a Ford pick-up truck during a crash on East Evans Creek Road, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. The vehicle left the road and flew into the driveway of James Scott LaFever.
LeFever's truck, his wife's car and their motorhome were totaled. After being ejected from the Ford truck, Harris ended up wedged under LaFever's truck, according to a letter LaFever wrote and provided to the Mail Tribune.
LaFever said in the letter that heard the man who was ejected from the Ford saying, "I have to get out of here. I have to get out of here."
LaFever said he discovered the passenger's legs sticking out from under his own truck. A neighbor who had arrived checked Harris' pulse, and LaFever later checked as well, but she had no pulse, according to the letter.
LaFever said in the letter Stocke became agitated and belligerent when law enforcement arrived.
Speaking in court Monday, LaFever said he thought the prison sentence for Stocke was too light.
"Seventy-five months for killing this woman, this mother, doesn't seem right to me. Doesn't seem right at all," LaFever said.
Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Nicholas Geil read aloud from a letter written by the victim's father, who said she was important to so many — including a mother, daughter and niece.
The father said Stocke has no remorse for his actions. He thanked the District Attorney's Office for being the voice for the victim and her family.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia said there is no length of prison time that can satisfy the relative of a person killed because of criminal actions.
But Mejia noted Stocke was sentenced under Oregon's tough-on-crime Measure 11 provisions, meaning he will serve every day of his sentence.
"Before Measure 11, he would have received a lot less," Mejia said.
In the era before Measure 11, Mejia said, the average time served for murder was seven years. Murder is a more severe charge than manslaughter and under Measure 11 carries a 25-year minimum sentence.
LaFever said in the letter more people could have been killed during the July 5 crash that ended Harris' life.
If the crash had occurred 10 minutes earlier, LaFever said, he would have been killed because he had just arrived home and had backed his truck into his driveway. If the crash had happened 10 minutes later, his son would have been backing his car into a spot where the pick-up truck driven by Stocke landed, LaFever said in the letter.
Stocke was convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants in 1999. He completed a diversion program, which included listening to a DUII victims' panel, and had the charge dismissed, court records show.
Between 1989 and 2015, he was ticketed for unsafe passing on the left, careless driving, failure to use a seat belt, failure to drive within a lane, obstructing a vehicle's windows and operating a vehicle without proper fenders or mud guards, court records show.
— Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.