A Kansas State University graduate student was sentenced to just 60 days in jail after he killed a couple in a head-on collision while his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
Miles Theurer, 24, pleaded no contest to two counts of involuntary manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol. Riley County Division I Judge John Bosch gave Theurer a downward departure — meaning a sentence less than the statutory minimum sentence — because he believes the incident was atypical.
The prosecution plans to appeal the probation given to Theurer, who on May 14, 2012, drove his pickup truck over the center line of K-18 and hit a Buick LeSabre heading westbound. A driver said he saw Theurer going the wrong way and tried to get his attention but was unsuccessful.
Elizabeth Young, 31, and Michael Stanley, 31, were killed. Young was the mother of two. Stanley was a father of two. The couple was engaged to be married. Blood tests showed Theurer's blood alcohol was .19. The legal limit is .08.
Bosch sentenced Theurer on Monday to 60 days in jail. Prosecutor Barry Wilkerson said the conviction typically carries the presumptive sentence of about 3 to 4 years. Wilkerson filed notice Tuesday that he will be pursuing more jail time for Theurer.
During his 60 days in jail, Bosch told Theurer he would have to write a plan to conduct outreach to prevent drunk drivers from killing people. Then he is supposed to conduct this outreach at least 36 times while he is under house arrest. Reports did not indicate that Theurer has any experience or training in the area of alcohol and substance abuse counseling. Despite being under house arrest, Theurer is reportedly free to continue going to college classes.
The families of Theurer’s victims were visibly upset by the verdict and one had an angry outburst outside the courtroom.
Bosch said he knew the sentence would be unpopular, but he hoped it would lead Theurer to give up alcohol altogether.
In 2010, the FBI reported more than 1.41 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence. A report from the National Department of Transportation found that about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence are repeat offenders.
Sarah Rae Fruchtnicht
June 19, 2013
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