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Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins said Wednesday she had high hopes for Anthony Delez as she sentenced him to 12 years in prison for manslaughter and drunken driving, with almost five years suspended.
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"You have to live with far more than the sentence imposed today," she said.
On April 16, Delez, 21, drove a pickup truck over his friend Richard Mason after a round of heavy drinking at a local bar and late-night arguing out the road. After the incident, Delez drove Mason to Bartlett Regional Hospital, where he later died.
Facing a 99-year prison sentence for a murder charge, Delez pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July and set up the possibility of an 11-year prison term with an additional year for the drunken driving charge.
Collins suspended four years and 11 months of the combined sentence, then recommended an alcohol treatment program for Delez while in prison. He also received credit for the 171 days served since his April arrest.
"It was close to a more serious offense," Collins said.
District Attorney Jack Schmidt detailed the crime saying that Mason stood in front of Delez's truck with hands up as the pair argued over who was too drunk to drive. Schmidt said Delez bumped Mason a few times with the truck.
"He knew very well that he was in front of the vehicle," he said. "He punched it and ran over Mason."
Delez admitted to being angry that night, and he was reckless, Schmidt said.
When given the chance to speak, Delez described Mason as the best friend he had ever had.
"I take responsibility for what happened that night," he said. "I don't wish to drink ever again. I'm sad that this tragedy had to happen for me to see that."
All involved said Delez, with a supportive, loving family and self-motivation, was a good candidate for rehabilitation. Collins reminded him that up to one-third of his sentence could be reduced for good behavior.
According to defense attorney David Seid, Delez is already making the best of his incarceration. He finished his GED and is now tutoring others while in prison, Seid said.
Collins gave Delez credit for an "unusual" move to take the blame for Mason's death right away.
"I believe your remorse," she said.
After his release, Delez will face seven years of probation that, among other things, keeps him from bars and liquor stores. If Delez pays the $1,500 fine and Mason's family $11,000 in restitution, probation is reduced to five years.
Collins closed, saying, "Good luck, Mr. Delez."
Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.