Sentence: 12 years
A man accused of driving the wrong way on Interstate 5 while drunk and killing a 911 dispatcher in a 2014 crash has been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to almost 12 years in prison.
The jury in the trial of 45-year-old Richard Webster Scott deliberated for about 30 minutes Wednesday before returning the verdict. He was sentenced to 11 years, nine months in prison by Jackson County Circuit Judge Patricia Crain.
"Your lack of concern about anybody else is really terrible," Crain said.
Scott has five prior drunken-driving convictions.
Crain said Scott was a "dedicated alcoholic" who chose to drink the night of the crash. Although Scott occasionally dabbed at his eyes with a tissue during the two-day trial, Crain said she suspected he was only crying for himself, not out of regret over the death he caused.
Karen Greenstein, 58, was killed at about 3 a.m. March 27, 2014, near Phoenix while returning to her home in Ashland after a late shift at Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon. She had been driving south on I-5 when she was struck by a van driven by Scott as he traveled north in the southbound lane.
Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz said Scott was driving the wrong way at 75 mph to 90 mph when he struck Greenstein's car, shearing off the driver's side and ripping her seat out.
"The crash was one of the most serious crashes I've seen in my 11 years in the office," Markiewicz said. "The debris field for the crash was over the size of a football field."
During the trial, jurors saw images from the crash scene and heard testimony from Oregon State Police officers who said Scott exhibited signs of intoxication in an ambulance and at the hospital, including slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.
His blood alcohol level was measured multiple times in the hours after the crash, with a range of 0.212 to 0.248 percent, Markiewicz said, two-and-a-half to three times the legal limit.
Greenstein was a longtime dispatcher for Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon and had been named ECSO's Dispatcher of the Year in 2011. More than 500 people, including police officers, attended her memorial service.
Scott's trial began Tuesday. Prior to the trial, he had several court-appointed defense lawyers dismissed from his case. He was sent to the Oregon State Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation before being brought back to the Jackson County Jail to await trial.
During his sentencing Wednesday, Scott said he needed psychiatric help.
"I'm very sorry. It could have been a lot worse," Scott said, referring to testimony that he missed other drivers and could have hit a vehicle with multiple occupants rather than a solo driver. "I will never drink again. Why did it take a tragedy?"
Court-appointed defense lawyer Mark Hendershott represented Scott, though Scott tried to have Hendershott removed from the case. Scott also sought a change of venue, citing negative pretrial publicity. Both his motions were denied.
Greenstein's family has a separate civil case pending against Scott and Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services. The family alleges that DMV should not have issued a driver's license to Scott because he had a suspended or revoked license in California for alcohol-related offenses.
Bill Greenstein, husband to the late Karen Greenstein, said his biggest fear is Scott will be out of prison in about a decade and will drive again, even with a lifetime revocation of his license handed down by Crain.
"He'll be younger when he gets out than Karen was when she died," Bill Greenstein said. "That's what scares me and should scare the community. He's going to be out, and my bet is he drives again and kills or injures someone again."
Before the crash in Jackson County, Bill Greenstein said, Scott had served time in California for driving drunk and injuring other people.