Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hitting a jogger will cost you $500. Stealing and killing a dog will cost you $5,000.

Two crime stories at the top of today's Frederick News-Post sit side by side. Both defendants are men, and both face radically different fines.

In the first story, Joshua Wayne Cool has been fined $500 for hitting Elizabeth DiNunzio as she jogged on the side of Old Emmitsburg Highway. Speed and alcohol did not "factor" in the crash. DiNunzio was two weeks from graduating from Mount St. Mary's with a degree in Spanish.

Cool also has to pay $103 in court fees, bringing his bill to a grand total of $603.

Cool was not convicted. At most he faced a year in jail. He plead guilty to failing to exercise care to avoid a pedestrian, and this article wants to emphasize he did it "although he was in his lane of travel when the accident occurred." (Hm. I think the car that hit me in a crosswalk was in its lane of travel too.) Cool's other charges were mostly about insurance, since he drove a truck that belonged to his parents, and his parents didn't insure him. He had his own insurance, however, so those charges were dropped.

So Cool owes $603. He does seem to feel pretty bad about this--and I think he probbably is devastated. Instead I'm annoyed that a girl died and the best the court can come up with is $603. Cool feels significantly worse than the court. I think that's a problem.

The second story details a man who threw a teacup Chihuahua off a bridge last year. Some background: David Michael Beers drove in to a couple's driveway, thinking it was a service road. He needed better cellphone service. Caisha and Tim Wantz asked Beers to leave their driveway (this happened to them a lot). They were going to run some errands and needed to get out anyway. Beers engaged in an argument with the couple, because the phone call was super important, and Beers finally left the driveway. The couple left soon thereafter, and Beers returned. The Chihuahua, Zoey, approached the car. Beers picked her up, drove off, and then tossed her off a bridge.

Beers also plead guilty. He faces 4.5 years in jail and $5,500 fine plus $318 in restitution to the Wantz family. His fine is $5000 more than Cool's! He'll also face three years of probation.

There is a lot of anger here because Beers "deprived the Wantzes of the ownership of their dog...and commited cruelty to Zoey."

What Beers did was obviously unconscionable and cruel, but I don't think depriving DiNunzio's parents of their daughter is easier for DiNunzio's family.

Beers' "punishment" will be determined later. The judge wants to hear from Zoey's owners (who are devastated--I don't want to diminish that) and would like a psychological evaluation.

I hope Beers serves the maximum sentence.

But I also wish there was a little more balance in the justice system's treatment to pedestrians.

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