A dangerous intersection of impatience and bad decisions that resulted in death is a cautionary tale for us all, according to Judge Mary K. Wagner.
Wagner’s comments came in the Wednesday sentencing of Donald P. Anderson, driver of a pickup truck that struck a car at the intersection of 52nd Street and 104th Avenue on July 23, 2014, killing Jorden Spivey, a passenger in the car.
“Everyone thinks they're more important than someone else; that they have to get through the intersection before someone else. ... It is an epidemic in the state of Wisconsin and this community, causing damage to human beings on a regular basis,” Wagner said.
Though originally charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and driving on a revoked license causing death, Anderson’s charges were reduced to driving on a revoked license. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
Wagner sentenced Anderson to nine months probation with the stipulation that he enroll in a driver safety course, and revoked his license for six months.
Sentence angers family
For the Spivey family, neither the sentence nor the judicial process were satisfactory, said his mother, Dale Crawford.
Speaking before the sentencing Spivey’s brother, Adam Spivey, said the family was “confused” by the reduced charges.
“It was not what my family was expecting; it’s a failure of justice,” he said.
Crawford said family members were led to believe the prosecution had a strong case against Anderson based on eyewitness accounts and an initial reconstruction of the accident.
It was this evidence and information that the family hoped would come out in a jury trial. “I wanted the truth to come out either way,” said Crawford.
Instead, shortly after the jury was selected, the family was informed Anderson would plead to the reduced charge.
“We went from a strong case to nothing,” Crawford said.
Nine months of probation, she said, was not adequate punishment for Anderson’s actions.
“Jorden lost his day in court,” Crawford said.
Spivey, 27, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Sheldon Hartwell. As Hartwell made a left turn from westbound 52nd Street onto 104th Avenue, his vehicle was struck in the intersection by Anderson’s eastbound pickup truck, which reportedly ran a red light.
Spivey was airlifted to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa where he died the following day.
Anderson, 32, of Kenosha, was driving on an occupational license, having lost his license after a drunken-driving conviction. He was driving outside the times specified on his license, but was operating a work vehicle and was believed to be on his way home at the time.
Delivering the sentence, Wagner noted she was “discouraged” by choices that Anderson had made that contributed to the accident.
“What I am discouraged about is that after three OWIs there is evidence of past continued drug use. ... You haven't learned from this and I don't get it. Maybe now you understand you shouldn't be using drugs on a regular basis.”
Spivey had been released from prison shortly before the crash, according to his father, and was working to turn his life around.
Wagner referenced that in her closing remarks, saying, “Mr. Spivey had an opportunity to start over with a new lease on life, and now he doesn't have it because of more than one person being in a hurry, trying to beat the light.”