Kaye Borneman's family and friends and colleagues from Dealer.com filed into the courtroom Thursday, each wearing purple ribbons and pins to honor the vibrant woman killed in a DUI crash.
In an eloquent statement, Kaye's brother addressed the court; his sister's killer sitting just feet away.
"In a dark green cardboard box wrapped in plastic were the ashes of my younger sister Kaye," Robert Borneman said.
Police say Kaye was killed instantly when Timothy Dowd, 53, of Hinesburg, slammed into her car a little over a year ago. Dowd was fleeing from police in an attempt to avoid his fifth DUI conviction. On Thursday he pleaded guilty to DUI with death resulting and no contest to second-degree murder for his role in the crash. This is the first drunk driving murder conviction in the state's history.
"The message is going to be loud and clear to the rest of Vermont: When you drink and drive under these circumstances we're going to call it what it is-- murder," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said.
Dowd's own lawyer admitted his client has become the poster child for drunk driving, an offense for which he will serve 10 years behind bars. He'll never be able to get behind the wheel of a car again and he'll live out his life after jail on indefinite probation.
"I will never expect you to forgive me, any of you. I wouldn't either. And I'm deeply sorry," Dowd said.
Dowd says his apology will never be enough, and admits he blatantly ignored multiple chances to get help with his addiction.
"I was cowardly about it. I did not man up. I did not take care of the problem," Dowd said. "It all came crashing down and unfortunately it was Kaye who paid."
But Kaye's family says they got justice with this unprecedented conviction and a sentence that balances punishment without retribution. They left Dowd with a challenge to get sober and turn his life around.
"This will be his fifth chance to get the help he needs and start to become a contributing member to our society instead of being a menace," said Lauren Belanger, Kaye's co-worker.
"Kaye's life will not be wasted from this tragedy," Dowd said. "You have my word on that."
Under the plea deal, Dowd will only serve half of the minimum sentence for a second-degree murder conviction. Kaye's family requested that upon his release Dowd become an AA sponsor, an active volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club-- one of Kaye's favorite organizations-- and that he reach out to high schoolers by talking about his experience and the life he took. Dowd vowed to make that challenge come true.
Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:45 PM EST2013-12-11 00:45:37 GMT
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