A London man, who was driving impaired and seriously injured a woman during a crash in Whitley County nearly two years ago, was recently sentenced to serve a decade behind bars.
Michael Howard, 41, pleaded guilty in Whitley Circuit Court on Nov. 18 to first-degree assault, third-offense operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, driving on a DUI suspended license, and two counts of wanton endangerment as part of a plea agreement.
Whitley Circuit Judge Paul Winchester ordered a 10-year prison sentence during Howard’s formal sentencing hearing, which was held on Jan. 21. He also ordered that Howard’s operator’s license be suspended for three years.
“This is the largest non-fatal DUI sentence in county history,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling noted in a social media post. “Great job by Officer Jim Pool of the Williamsburg Police Department on the investigation and arrest of Howard. Lt. Bobby Freeman and Elijah Hunter were also on scene assisting. Great work and great conviction!”
Howard will be classified as a violent offender and be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence prior to becoming eligible for parole, Bowling added.
The accident occurred on Jan. 24, 2018, when Howard struck a vehicle occupied by Doris Lee causing serious physical injury to her, according to his indictment.
Lee suffered multiple broken bones during the crash, which required multiple surgeries. It took her nine months before she could walk again, according to her victim’s impact statement.
At the time of the crash Doris Lee and her husband, Henry Lee, were taking their grandson, Richie Lee, to school at Whitley Central Primary School, according to court documents.
“I have agreed with the offer of the Commonwealth but I must say I have a lifetime sentence dealing with this crime and the injuries that resulted. I think the defendant should have a lifetime sentence,” Doris Lee wrote in her victim’s impact statement.
“This crime has changed our lives completely. We never dreamed we would go through something such as this. Before this crime, I was able to walk 2-3 miles a day and now I can’t even run.”
Winchester also ordered Howard to pay $130 court costs, a $20 arrest fee to the Williamsburg Police Department, and a $10 fee to the Kentucky State Police Kentucky Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and $875 in DUI fines and service fees after he is released from prison.
Winchester scheduled a March 16 hearing for the purposes of determining how much restitution is owed in the case.