Judge Says Harsher Sentence Needed for Hit and Run Defendant
Rejects proposed plea deal
ANCHORAGE - In a packed Anchorage courtroom on Friday, before Judge Jack Smith had entered, 20-year-old Ashley Bashore made a last minute apology to the family of Hubert Tunuchuk.
She killed the 28-year-old last Easter Sunday when prosecutors say she was texting and driving on Tudor Road over the Seward Highway.
But, when sentencing started, the apology didn't seem to comfort Tunuchuk's uncle, who was listening to the proceeding over the phone and had the opportunity to address the court.
“We have never received any kind of apology from her. I’m not sure there's a last minute apology like this... I'm not sure that means anything,” said Geoffrey Stauffer.
Stauffer said it was hard for the family to wait for eight months for Bashore to be charged.
“Telling her friends that she hit a dog, which was just so awful when we found that out,” said Stauffer.
As part of a deal with state prosecutors Bashore pleaded guilty in July to criminally negligent homicide and failing to render assistance.
“Because Ms. Bashore has no prior criminal history she faces a sentence under the statute of 1 to 3 years,” said assistant district attorney Christina Sherman.
The state argued for a 3-year sentence -- 2 of those suspended.
“That two years of suspended time is important for rehabilitation and allows her conduct to be monitored over the course of the next three years,” said Sherman.
On the charge of not stopping to help, state prosecutor Sherman argued for 2 years -- all suspended.
But Judge Jack Smith did not agree.
“It still remains that somebody died and somebody didn't stop after hitting them. I have a problem with that,” said Judge Smith.
“To give no time for that offense [failing to render assistance] where are death occurred is inappropriate, so I'm going to find that the proposed sentence doesn't meet the interest of justice.”
Bashore’s lawyer and state prosecutors will renegotiate and are due back in court on November 7.