My 14-year-old son, Tyler Dowling, was the victim of homicide in April 2011. I learned firsthand what having a life robbed from you feels like: the anguish of going to court, seeing my son’s killer, his family talking with him and laughing with him and hugging him.
My son is never coming home again; there was no final goodbye, no hug and no “I love you” to be shared. All because of one person’s decision to be a killer. While the killer gets his life and freedom some day, victims and their families never do. Only memories and constant reminders of their unfath-omable loss remain.
Victims of crime have to rely on the legal system to ensure that justice will be served. Judge John Bosch recently failed to uphold his pledge to follow the law in the case of drunk driver Miles Theurer, whose actions resulted in the deaths of Michael Stanley and Elizabeth Young. Judge Bosch should be held accountable for the lack of justice meted out in this case.
Judge Bosch’s decision to deviate from a plea agreement and allowing a downward de-parture of the normal sentence for the offense — a measly slap on the hand of 60 days in county jail and 36 speeches to schools, churches, etc., on the effects of drunk driving — is a dishonor to his position as a judge. As a parent, I would not want Theurer to give a court-ordered speech on the effects of his drunken driving experience to my children. What would his message be? “Young people, the judge felt I was a good person because I made it to graduate school and deserved a break to go out get drunk and kill two innocent people, so here I am today under his direction, to speak to you because I don’t want to go back to jail for violating my probation.” Give me a break! My hope is that school administrators and parents will not allow such speeches.
Judge Bosch clearly let his personal emotions take over to the point of shedding tears for the defendant as he stated that he was “impressed” that Theur-er was “a grad student, go-getter and good student.” Mr. Theurer may have been all of those things at one time, but the night of May 13, 2012, he was none of those things. Theurer chose to drink to the point of intoxication resulting in a blood-alcohol level two times the legal limit while partying at a strip club in Junction City with friends and later killed two people and injured several others.
Judge Bosch, where were your tears for Michael and Elizabeth? Their children? Their parents? Their families? It is my hope that you, sir, never have to walk in the shoes as a victim and sit on the other side in the courtroom. I can guarantee that you would want the person who took your loved one to be punished to the highest level the law allows. You stated that you wanted Theurer’s name to be known in Kansas; I assure you it will be, as well as yours, with your inconsiderate and lenient tolerance for those who commit crimes in Riley County.
I give a standing ovation to Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson for stand-ing strong for the victims and their families in this case, and to the police officers, emergency personnel and Mr. Wilkerson’s staff, who worked tireless hours on the case, and now for appealing the sentence to the Kansas Court of Appeals. May your peers have better judgment than you, sir.
Riley County needs more judges like the Honorable David Stutzman, who does not allow his personal emotions to overrule his solemn obligation to the community he serves.
Angie Dowling lives at 2512 Brockman.