Family Upset About Drunk Driver's Sentence For Fatal Crash


The family of a man killed in a Marion crash caused by a drunk driver is outraged over what happened in court. They think the sentence handed down to the drunk driver is far too light.

10-year-old Arieona Richie is practicing cheering but finding it hard to be cheerful these days. She lost her father.
"When my friend stayed over, we seen a big blob or a grey thing peeking in the door," said Richie.

She thinks her daddy's ghost has visited her. It's the only way she sees him now. Eric Richie was killed in a car accident on 203 in Marion in December.

"That was probably the most horrible call I've ever gotten in my life," said Arieona's mother, Tonya Griffith.

Griffith struggled with how to tell her daughter. Richie was in a car with two of his friends. Robert Persinger ran a stop sign and hit them. Richie and his friend, Jarred Bullion died. Quinton Owens was injured.

It came out in court Persinger had a blood alcohol level of .18 and was going 80 miles an hour when he blew through the stop sign. He also had a prior OVI. Persinger got nine years each for two of the counts and five years for the third, but they're not consecutive sentences.

"When he said he was running them all concurrent and he only got nine years, I don't think I've ever been so mad in my life," said Griffith.

Judge Jim Slagle says even though the prosecutor was asking for 15 years and consecutive sentences, that wasn't an option.  He says state law dictates concurrent sentences on counts that are related to a single act.

"I don't understand how, killing two people, you only get nine years," said Griffith.

Little Arieona told the judge what she thought.

That he should get his whole life.  Because he killed my dad," said Richie.

"I just pray for everybody's family that he don't ever effect anybody like he has our family," said Griffith.

When Persinger was sentenced last week, the surviving victim, Quintin Owens, was so upset over the sentence he was shouting expletives at Persinger and officers had to clear the courtroom.