DUI driver receives prison term for Highway 525 crash
By MICHAELA MARX WHEATLEY
South Whidbey Record Island Life
July 15, 2008 · Updated 9:47 AM
Prosecutor notes driver had previous convictions
COUPEVILLE — The driver who caused the fatal crash that killed a mother and popular community volunteer 18 months ago will go to prison for more than seven years.
Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock sentenced Randi Shelton to
89 months on Friday.
Shelton, whose blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, pled guilty to one count of vehicular homicide in Island County Superior Court in May.
According to court records, Shelton was driving under the influence of alcohol on Highway 525 on Jan. 22, 2007 when her SUV struck Karen Gervais Boone’s car and killed the mother of two instantly.
Before the crash, several drivers had called dispatchers as Shelton passed them on her erratic path down the highway.
One caller prophetically told the dispatcher, “They are going to kill somebody” when Shelton passed by on the highway, according to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum.
Before colliding with Gervais Boone’s van, Shelton sideswiped another vehicle.
Gervais Boone could not see Shelton coming her way until that driver swerved to get out of the way.
Shelton slammed into Gervais Boone at a relative speed of more than 100 mph, according to court documents.
The prosecution also highlighted Shelton’s history of driving under the influence.
She was convicted in Oregon in 1990 and 1996 under different names: Randi Gehrke and Randi Morlock.
Shelton’s attorney challenged the existence of those convictions, but the prosecutor’s office collected evidence, including identical birth dates, that pinned the prior convictions on Shelton.
The standard range for the crime is 31 to 41 months in prison.
The prosecution asked for a top-of-the-range sentence of
89 months, including a two-year sentence enhancement for the prior convictions.
In addition, Shelton was ordered to pay $8,193 restitution to the Boone family for funeral costs, obtain treatment for alcoholism, refrain from any consumption of drugs or alcohol and reimburse the Washintgon State Patrol for its costs of $1,000.
The tragic death of Gervais Boone on Whidbey’s main traffic artery angered many residents.
Liquor bottles had been found in Shelton’s car at the time of the accident. And the anger of locals was only fueled when Shelton’s lawyer challenged the blood alcohol results from the state toxicology lab after irregularities in the lab surfaced last year.
However, the problems in the lab centered around breath tests. Island County authorities noted that police tested Shelton’s blood, however, and not her breath when she was arrested.
The evidence was later admitted, in addition to another blood test from Whidbey General Hospital. Both showed Shelton was more than 300 percent over the legal limit.
After a series of delays in the case, Shelton pled guilty in May in a surprise move, saying she wanted to spare the victim’s family from continued anguish.
In court Friday before the judge passed sentence, Shelton — who lost a husband to a drunk driver — apologized for the crash.
“I’m truly deeply sorry for the loss of Karen. I know if I could change what happened, I would do it in a heartbeat,” she said.
When Shelton’s sister got up to tell the court that Shelton was “not a monster,” the victim’s father, Jim Gervais, stood up to protest and then left the courtroom.
“This woman was not just a little drunk, she was three times the legal limit,” said John Boone, the victim’s husband.
“Her actions in the last year and a half have shown that she has no remorse,” Boone said, recalling the legal maneuvers in the case. “She didn’t give a damn.”
Tears filled Boone’s eyes as he stopped to thank Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks and his team of lawyers.
“This tragic loss of life was senseless and preventable,” Banks said.
“It is mind-boggling to me that people will still get behind the wheel after drinking, when everyone knows that this can happen.”Contact South Whidbey Record Island Life Michaela Marx Wheatley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 221-5300.