Third DUI means jail time for Athens man
BRATTLEBORO -- An Athens man was sentenced to serve up to five years in prison for his third DUI conviction -- this one coming after a short police chase with two children in the suspect's car.
Before Ryan Crosby was led from court in handcuffs Tuesday, the 30-year-old told Judge John Wesley that he works two jobs and is dedicated to the care of his young son.
Wesley imposed a minimum sentence of 20 months behind bars and noted that his time in prison could be "considerably less than that" with good behavior and proper programming.
But Wesley also said any lesser sentence would not be appropriate, adding that he does not believe Crosby's latest arrest is simply a "lapse in judgment."
"Mr. Crosby, if I accept that explanation for your behavior in this case, people will look at me as if, ‘That's a judge who will believe anything,'" Wesley said.
Vermont State Police said Crosby was exceeding a 25 mph speed limit while driving his 1991 Chevy Camaro on Route 121 in Saxtons River on the night of Aug. 4, 2012.
State Trooper Nicholas Arlington said Crosby refused to stop, reaching 63 mph after the trooper activated his emergency lights. Crosby traveled about a half mile before pulling over.
In the car were a woman and two children. One was under 2 at the time, while the other was 3.
In a separate case, Crosby was charged with punching a man that same day in Bellows Falls.
He pleaded guilty in April to DUI #3, gross negligent operation and driving with a suspended license in connection with the Saxtons River traffic stop. He previously had been convicted of driving under the influence in 2008 and 2009.
Crosby also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with the Bellows Falls incident.
There was no agreed-upon jail term heading into Tuesday's sentencing hearing in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
Windham County Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein requested that Crosby receive a sentence of two and a half to five years behind bars.
Crosby's prior criminal record included convictions on 13 misdemeanor charges and one felony charge. He served about 14 months of jail time in 2009 and 2010, and his parole had expired less than four months before his August arrest.
"This conduct falls within a progression of criminal conduct by the defendant that has lasted over a period that now exceeds 10 years," Gartenstein said.
"The state does not believe that the defendant is any longer a probation candidate," Gartenstein added. "He needs to be on the stricter structure that would be provided after he is released from jail."
Gartenstein also said Crosby's actions during the Saxtons River incident "show extreme disregard for the safety of others."
Defense attorney Chris Montgomery asked for a mostly suspended prison sentence, allowing Crosby to undergo treatment in the community while abiding by court-imposed conditions and performing community service.
While saying what Crosby did was "definitely wrong," Montgomery argued that Crosby is in the process of reforming himself.
"He has investment in the community," Montgomery said. "I believe he has proven this past year that he can be supervised."
Crosby told Wesley that he was "willing to do whatever it takes" to avoid a lengthy prison term and said he has not gotten into any trouble since the August incident.
"I enjoy spending all my free time with my son," he said.
Wesley said he didn't doubt the sincerity of that plea.
"You may very well be at a point in your life where you are ready to put aside the wild, impetuous and really criminally driven lifestyle," the judge said.
But Wesley said he did not believe that Crosby's recent behavior shows that he truly has turned a corner.
"If anybody should have known at that point that getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence was the worst thing you could do with two prior convictions and a host of other convictions, you were that person," Wesley said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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