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Updated: Maximum sentence given in hit-and-run that killed child

Fowler to serve 40 and 15 years, consecutively

Posted: March 21, 2013 - 1:18pm
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Full story update:

Jurors handed down the maximum sentence available for Michael Fowler, 28, guilty of negligent homicide in the hit-and-run death of a 12-year-old Wooster boy.

Garrett Martin was driving a 4-wheeler on Burgess Lane near his home on Aug. 15 of last year when Fowler, who was intoxicated, struck Martin's ATV and continued driving.

Martin died instantly of a skull fracture, according to official testimony, when he was propelled ahead of the wreck and onto the pavement.

Jurors also found Fowler guilty of DWI and leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death.

The maximum sentence for the combined offenses is 55 years in prison and a fine of $25,000, but Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said it is "reasonable to expect" Fowler to be free in 9 years and two months.

Prosecutors outlined an equation of reduced sentencing in the sentencing phase of the trial Thursday that showed Fowler is eligible for parole after he serves one-third of his sentence, and if he is credited for good behavior, he'll serve one-sixth.

"That's an embarrassment to this state and a disservice to the family, to this family, and to families all across this state," Hiland said. "Given the way the current parole system is run, it is reasonable to expect he will be out in 9 years and two months."

Hiland said previously the negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident charges carried lesser sentences than those delivered Thursday.

Jail time increased for Fowler, he said, because of his classification as a habitual offender.

Fowler has four prior felony convictions dating back to 2003 related to breaking or entering and residential burglary.

Fowler's family testified in the sentencing phase Thursday that he has had alcohol and mental problems, and asked jurors to consider letting Fowler out of jail "while his kids are still kids."

About 20 witnesses testified in the two-day trial.

Key witnesses Zachary Koontz and Matthew Ballard, who were passengers in Fowler's vehicle, gave a sequence of events of Aug. 15 at the beginning of the trial Wednesday.

The three went swimming at Cadron Creek, drank beer and whiskey, and then were on their way back to Fowler's home in Morrilton when Martin was killed, according to the two.

The two stated Fowler told them to tell others hitting a deer caused damage to his vehicle, and testified Fowler cut out and disposed of deployed airbags from his truck.

Investigators later found Fowler cut out and used a seat belt to tie down the hood of his truck, which was substantially damaged in the wreck.

About an hour after the wreck in Wooster, Fowler was arrested by Morrilton police.

According to court testimony, Koontz and Ballard did not call authorities though they attempted to get Fowler to stop his vehicle, but Ballard's brother called police after Ballard called and asked for a ride from Shaw Bridge Road, where they testified Fowler finally stopped after the accident.

Testifying on Martin's behalf Thursday were his father and mother, his peewee football coach and his former teacher at Eastside Elementary in Greenbrier.

Martin's mother, Jackie Martin, read an emotional account of her family's life without Garrett Martin, her only child."Michael Fowler may be locked up, but we are the prisoners. For Garrett's family, there is no possibility of parole," she said.

Fowler's defense attorney Lynn Plemmons also read a letter to jurors. He said in January Fowler asked him to present a written apology to the family, which he declined to provide them as Fowler's attorney due to the letter's implications.

In the letter Fowler asked the family to one day forgive him, and wrote that "not a day goes by" that he doesn't cry and feel sorry for what he has done.

Forty years of Fowler's sentence and $15,000 of his fine are dedicated to the negligent homicide charge, and 15 years and $10,000 are dedicated to the charge for fleeing the scene of the accident.

His sentence will be served consecutively, as ordered by Judge Charles Clawson.

"I think today is yet another tragic story related to drinking and driving, and yet another reason that as a society we can't tolerate an individual's cavalier attitude toward it," Hiland said. "Because when they take that cavalier attitude about this, people die and families like the Martins lose their 12-year-old son."

 

 

_________________

Jurors handed down the maximum sentence available for Michael Fowler, guilty of negligent homicide, DWI and leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death.

Fowler, 28, is classified as a habitual offender having four previous felony convictions related to breaking and entering and residential burglary.

The two-day trial concluded Thursday after a short sentence deliberation and an even shorter verdict deliberation.

Fowler, a resident of Morrilton, is guilty in the death of Garrett Martin, 12, of Wooster.

Martin was driving a 4-wheeler on Burgess Lane in August of last year when Fowler struck Martin's ATV and caused Martin's death.

Fowler's blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit for operating a vehicle, according to official testimony.

Fowler was sentenced to 40 years and a fine of $15,000 for negligent homicide, and 15 years with a $10,000 fine for fleeing the scene.

The sentences will be served consecutively, according to Judge Charles Clawson's order.

Jurors delivered the maximum sentence after lengthy, emotional testimony delivered by Martin's parents, a teacher, and his football coach given in the sentencing phase.

Fowler's wife and father appeared on stand in the sentencing phase to ask jurors to let Fowler out of jail "while his kids are still kids."

 

 

Full story coming.

 

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arkansasobserver
3244
Points
arkansasobserver 03/21/13 - 01:57 pm
7
2
Everybody loses

There are no winners in this situation other than society, which is clearly a little safer today.

cjsmom92
134
Points
cjsmom92 03/21/13 - 02:17 pm
10
0
You bet.

Fowler's wife and father appeared on stand in the sentencing phase to ask jurors to let Fowler out of jail "while his kids are still kids."

All he has to do is bring back the child he killed and let his parents enjoy watching him grow up. Can't do that? Too bad then; put on your big boy pants and go serve your sentence like a man.

foofinky
25
Points
foofinky 03/21/13 - 02:24 pm
7
0
Good.

We all know drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. This guy knew it, he did it, and then he fled the scene like a coward. Glad the jury was tough enough to do the right thing.

InsGuru
4978
Points
InsGuru 03/21/13 - 02:41 pm
4
1
If you click on the other

If you click on the other article it says "Cody Hiland says the negligent homicide carries a sentence from 10-20 years" but on here it says they gave him 40 (I mean I'm not disagreeing just kinda confused)
Everybody loses like has been said.

just_trying_to_survive
1202
Points
just_trying_to_survive 03/21/13 - 02:42 pm
6
1
Just curious;

not that I agree or disagree with any of the findings here, but just curious as to how someone that is put in prison for 55 years will pay the fines of $25,000 while they are incarcerated. I don't see most of them as having that much pocket change on them, let alone anything of that much value to sell. And we all know that they make no money in prison.

As for the wife and father asking him to be kept out of Jail so he could watch his kids grow up was just rude to the family that lost a child.

i_wonder
27122
Points
i_wonder 03/21/13 - 02:49 pm
9
1
"As for the wife and father
Unpublished

"As for the wife and father asking him to be kept out of Jail so he could watch his kids grow up was just rude to the family that lost a child."

I would have stood up and asked why THEY didn't keep HIM out of bars/clubs and other people's houses (burglary and B&E) while they were kids.

cjsmom92
134
Points
cjsmom92 03/21/13 - 04:34 pm
4
0
Why

in the world would you want a habitual criminal around your kids especially a cowardly one? His wife needs to get a clue.

InsGuru
4978
Points
InsGuru 03/21/13 - 03:18 pm
3
1
Well

"And we all know that they make no money in prison."

Some prisons do have work release that inmates can qualify for if they have good behavior after X amount of time.

Bad boy
978
Points
Bad boy 03/22/13 - 02:38 am
4
0
Fines.

On being released from prison he will start making payments at the Sheriffs office. If he doesn't comply he will be returned to prison for a parole violation. It will take at least 9 years and 2 months to start the collection but it will be done as he will be on parole for the remaining time of the 55 years after released.

i_wonder
27122
Points
i_wonder 03/21/13 - 02:46 pm
2
3
just waiting
Unpublished

For Seamus to declare Fowler's innocence...

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