A 24-year-old Haines man choked back tears and stumbled over his words Tuesday as he said he hoped he could be forgiven someday by family of the man who died while he was driving drunk last September.
Raymond Pardee was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison for manslaughter.
"I hope other people have learned from my mistake," Pardee said, before Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks imposed the sentence.
Daniel Folletti was a passenger in the Chevrolet Suburban that flipped over at Union Street and Allen Road in Haines in the early hours of Sept. 2, 2004, with Pardee at the wheel. Folletti suffered head injuries, Haines police reported.
He was flown to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, where he died.
A Juneau grand jury indicted Pardee on a manslaughter charge, alleging he acted recklessly to cause Folletti's death. The indictment also included misdemeanor charges - drunken driving and two counts of reckless endangerment for placing two other passengers at a substantial risk of injury. Pardee agreed to plead guilty to the charges in March, with the dismissal of an additional felony charge alleging he tampered with evidence.
Instead of helping Folletti "while he was dying in the road," Pardee was trying to get rid of evidence, said Jan Hill, one of Folletti's aunts. She read a statement family members prepared for the judge.
"We will never be a whole family again," she said. She described Folletti as a "bright and shining star in our life as well as the community of Haines." He would have turned 21 Friday. He not only missed his birthday, but the first birthday and first steps of his son, Clayton.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner played a 17-minute DVD the family prepared for Folletti's son to remember his father. Pardee, who had not seen it, according to his attorney, David Seid, hung his head periodically as it was projected in front of him. More than one person in the courtroom gallery openly wept.
One song, "Forever Young," followed another as happy images from Folletti's life appeared on the screen. Zooming in on Folletti in a Halloween costume, around a Christmas tree, at a theme park, at Native celebrations and fishing and camping, the music gave way to a voice asking why 700 people or more showed up to the funeral of such a young man.
"Everyone who knew your daddy loved your daddy," the voice said, before showing more family pictures, each with Folletti fading from the scene.
"Daniel was a good person with a good heart," Pardee said, when Weeks gave him the opportunity to speak before being sentenced. "I'm sorry for all the pain that I've caused."
Weeks told Pardee there was no question in his mind that he didn't intend to kill Folletti. "On the other hand the results are the same."
"People in the Folletti family would like to keep you in jail for the rest of your life," Weeks said. "People in your family would like to see you go to a halfway house." The judge said he was bound by the law and the plea agreement reached to the attorneys, which stipulated the sentence.
In addition to 15 years to serve for manslaughter, Weeks told Pardee he was suspending five years from that and four from the misdemeanors "that will hang over your head" while serving probation. He set probation at the maximum 10 years.
Restitution totaling $36,881 was set to cover Folletti family expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Tony Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.