ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Jackley: Stricter sentences could have prevented drunk driving death

A 60-day prison sentence for the Lake Andes man responsible for his brother's death in a drunk driving crash could have been avoided, according to the state's top law enforcement official.

Attorney General Marty Jackley speaks to the Rotary Club of Mitchell on Thursday at the Ramada Mitchell Hotel and Conference Center. Jackley is a 2018 Republican candidate for South Dakota governor. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)
Attorney General Marty Jackley speaks to the Rotary Club of Mitchell on Thursday at the Ramada Mitchell Hotel and Conference Center. Jackley is a 2018 Republican candidate for South Dakota governor. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)

A 60-day prison sentence for the Lake Andes man responsible for his brother's death in a drunk driving crash could have been avoided, according to the state's top law enforcement official.

During a visit with the Rotary Club of Mitchell on Thursday at the Ramada, Attorney General Marty Jackley said the 60-day sentence handed down to Albert Fischer could have been deterred if vehicular homicide was deemed a violent crime. While Fischer wasn't convicted of vehicular homicide, his cousin Ronald Fischer received 30 years in prison for killing two U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees while driving drunk in 2013.

But Ronald Fischer's March 2015 sentence placed him in line for parole after nine years. Approximately one year later, Albert Fischer's 22-year-old brother, James, died in a rollover crash while Albert was driving drunk.

"And what really drives me is Charles Mix County - where this really became an issue when Ron Fischer killed Maegan Spindler and Dr. (Robert) Klumb - his cousin goes and kills somebody else and got 60 days," Jackley said. "They didn't send a deterrent message in that case and that person's going to be out again in 60 days, and that's not enough time."

Jackley's bill to get vehicular homicide classified as a violent crime failed again in 2017, which would require someone to serve half their sentence before being eligible for parole.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Republican candidate for governor of South Dakota speculated a lot of legislators who opposed his proposal have been swayed by personal stories, but he hopes to find a solution to make the state's streets safer. And he believes the public supports his cause.

"Everybody I've talked to says, 'If you were to kill my daughter and you were only to get three and a half years, I'd be mad as h--- about that and you need to charge it,' " Jackley said.

While speaking to approximately 25 Rotarians, Jackley also answered questions about a string of criminal sentencings perceived as light by some onlookers.

Last week, Donald London was sentenced to 30 years in prison for shooting a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper during a 24-hour standoff in Kimball. Jackley said the discretionary sentencing decisions are left to the judge, but he acknowledged the AG's office sought greater sentences.

"I mean, that guy shot a police officer. If you're going to shoot a police officer you're probably willing to harm anybody," Jackley said. "To me, I don't know that it's ever safe to let that person back in the community."

Jackley wasn't alone in his call for stricted criminal sentences. Former State Sen. Mike Vehle said the penalty for meth distribution is not strong enough.

"Maybe I'm being too harsh, the person that uses, I want to help them, the person that sells, ballgame over," Vehle said.

First offense convictions for methamphetamine distribution is punishable by a mandatory one-year minimum sentence.

ADVERTISEMENT

On the campaign trail

As Jackley prepares to square off with U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem for a high profile Republican primary battle next summer, he told the local Rotary members he has the skillset to create jobs in South Dakota due to his background in agriculture, engineering and law enforcement.

"We have a great state, I want to continue to protect our conservative principles and I want to create new and better jobs so my kids Michael and Isabella can stay in our state," Jackley said.

Jackley versus Noem won't be the only high profile Republican state primary in 2018, with Mitchell's own Dusty Johnson, a former Public Utilities Commissioner and former chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, battling Secretary of State Shantel Krebs for a spot on the November ballot.

Attorney General Marty Jackley speaks to the Rotary Club of Mitchell on Thursday at the Ramada Mitchell Hotel and Conference Center. Jackley is a 2018 Republican candidate for South Dakota governor. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)
Attorney General Marty Jackley speaks to the Rotary Club of Mitchell on Thursday at the Ramada Mitchell Hotel and Conference Center. Jackley is a 2018 Republican candidate for South Dakota governor. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)

Related Topics: ELECTION 2018
What To Read Next
Special meeting to cover base bids and alternatives
Members Only
During the sentencing hearing, the judge presiding over the child pornography case that implicated David Suarez, 24, called it "unusual" and "unique."
“We’re using more water than we are guaranteed to have access to now," said City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein.
A resolution looking to allow the legislature to consider work requirements on the newly expanded Medicaid program is one step closer to the 2024 ballot.