Created on Monday, 20 May 2013 Written by JOEL E. MAST
Consecutive prison terms adding up to eight years is not enough punishment as far as Austin Houser’s mother and supporters are concerned.
ABOVE: Ellenna Houser, mother of 15-year-old Austin Houser, speaks Monday during the sentencing hearing for Cathy Humphries in Logan County Common Pleas Court. BELOW: Cathy Humphries, who was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for the death of Austin Houser, cries during her sentencing hearing. CLICK to watch video of the court proceedings.
“He was pretty low,” Ellenna Houser said of Judge Mark S. O’Connor’s sentence for Cathy Humphries, 49, who admitted to running over Austin on Oct. 25 as he walked in a ditch along State Route 274 outside Rushsylvania.
“It sucks,” one of several dozen supporters yelled out.
Watch video of the court proceedings below.
Ms. Houser said her efforts now are to raise awareness so that changes can be made to Ohio drunk driving laws.
“To the people who make these laws, I say, ‘Let it be your child, then you will realize eight or 11 years is not enough,’ ” she said. “Because she (Austin’s killer) will get out and she will be back on the road. She will drive again.”
The defendant pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony; and failure to stop after a crash, a third-degree felony.
She was sentenced to six months on the OVI charge and it will be served at the same time as a six-year sentence for aggravated vehicular homicide. A two-year sentence for failure to stop after a crash will begin afterward. Her driver’s license was revoked for life.
The maximum sentence for both felony counts was 11 years.
While she did not have a previous conviction for drunk driving, the defendant did have a history of alcohol abuse, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Eric Stewart said.
He asked for the maximum sentence.
“She made a series of choices,” Mr. Stewart said. “She made the choice to drink alcohol. She made the choice to get intoxicated and she made the choice to get the keys to her ex-husband’s truck and drive.”
Austin was walking to a friend’s house on Oct. 25. He was far off the road when the defendant drove off the side of S.R. 274 and struck him.
Investigators say there was evidence all four wheels of the pickup truck were off the road when Austin was hit.
The defendant drove on and made it to her family’s home nearby. There, she told them she hit a mailbox and threatened to kill herself. She was taken to a hospital for treatment of alcohol poisoning.
Blood samples show her blood alcohol level was at least 0.27, more than three times the legal limit.
Austin’s body was found two days later and deputies of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office turned their attention toward the defendant.
She was indicted in December.
Prior to sentencing, the defendant read from a prepared statement and tearfully apologized.
“Every morning when I get up, before my feet hit the floor, I know I caused this tragedy, and I am devastated to know that I took the life of a precious child,” she said.