Man sentenced in 2013 DUI death
A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday for killing a 20-year-old woman while driving drunk in 2013.
While driving north on Boniface Parkway near DeBarr Road in June 2013, Lane Douglas Wyatt ran a red light and slammed into a car driven by Citari Townes-Sweatt. Townes-Sweatt, the driver, was killed in the collision. Passengers in both vehicles suffered injuries.
Wyatt was sentenced to 18 years with five years suspended after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree assault and driving under the influence. He will be eligible for parole in 11-12 years.
Wyatt admitted to drinking five beers and three shots at Chilkoot Charlie’s prior to getting behind the wheel. According to officers at the scene, a blood test showed the then-U.S. Air Force airman was two and a half times over the legal limit, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Law. Townes-Sweatt had been acting as the designated driver for her passengers and had no alcohol or drugs in her system.
At his Friday sentencing, Wyatt apologized to Townes-Sweatt’s family.
“I’ve caused everyone in this courtroom a lot of pain. I particularly want to apologize directly to Citari’s family for taking her away from you,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m ever going to be able to forgive myself for that.”
Townes-Sweatt’s mother, Lanita Sweatt-Sanders, listened to the sentencing over the phone and spoke directly to Wyatt.
“Lane Douglas Wyatt, I want you to know that I sincerely forgive you. I really, really do. What’s more important is that I need you to forgive yourself,” she said.
For Sweatt-Sanders, the death of her daughter was the first in a heartbreaking series of losses.
“Since that tragic day, the day that I lost my baby girl, my youngest daughter, my life has been one big downward spiral of loss after loss. Nine months later, I lost a niece. And then six months after that, on Oct. 29, I lost another daughter,” Sweatt-Sanders said. “And with that being said, we must know that we are not in control of events that happen here on this earth.”
Wyatt’s father, Bret Wyatt, also took the stand to apologize to Townes-Sweatt’s family. He said his son is a good person; deeply sorry for his actions.
“He confided in my wife and I both, over the last year and a half, that he wished he’d died instead,” said Bret Wyatt, his voice breaking.
Before the 24-year-old was led away in handcuffs, Anchorage Judge Kevin Saxby told him the sentence “isn’t the absolute end of everything.”
Speaking outside the courtroom, Townes-Sweatt’s sister — Jamaesha Sweatt — agreed.
“Even her looking down on us now; she forgives him, and I know that she knows it was an accident,” Sweatt said. “I know that she just hopes he learns from this.”
–Bonney Bowman contributed reporting.