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Getting On : All My Politics

10 years for DUI?

from Samuel - Thursday, February 28, 2008
accessed 488 times

Here is an interesting debate topic.

In the following story from a local newspaper, Joseph Edward Eagan killed his friend while Driving Under the Influence late at night. The court later discovered that four months after this crash, Eagan posted pictures of himself drinking at a Halloween party on his MySpace page. The judge decided that the pictures showed he had no remorse for what he had done, and gave him a stiff sentence.

CLEARWATER - Four months after he drove drunk, crashed into a tree and killed his friend, Joseph Edward Eagan drank at a Halloween party and posted party photos on his MySpace page.

On Tuesday, that act outweighed Eagan's sobbing plea for leniency last month.

"That is not a record of remorse," Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley said.

And with that, Ley sentenced Eagan to 10 years and four months in prison for driving under the influence manslaughter in the death of 21-year-old Andrew Garcia.

Garcia, who lived in Palm Harbor, was a popular St. Petersburg College student whose funeral was attended by hundreds.

Eagan and Garcia spent the evening of June 1, 2006, at the Innisbrook Resort. After midnight, Eagan got behind the wheel of a 2001 Acura Integra with Garcia in the passenger's seat.

As Eagan headed south on Mill Pond Road, he lost control of the car and crashed into a tree.

His blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent, nearly twice the level at which Florida law presumes a driver to be impaired.

During a court hearing in January, attorney George Tragos asked Ley for a lighter sentence than the 10 years recommended by state guidelines.

Besides the remorse, Tragos argued that the crime was an isolated incident committed in an unsophisticated manner. But Ley said she thought Eagan was tearful primarily because he was terrified to go to prison.

On Tuesday, Eagan's family showed Ley a newspaper article about a different case in which drunken driver Richard Abramowicz killed a bicyclist in St. Petersburg and fled. Last month, Abramowicz, 26, got five years in prison and 10 years of probation.

In response, Ley said she did not know what negotiations had occurred in the other case.

"I feel no joy in sentencing him to prison, but he had the burden of proving remorse," she said.

Eagan had been free on his own recognizance pending sentencing. As deputies led him away, he turned his head to his family. His mother, Pamela Eagan, wept loudly.

Outside in the courthouse hallway, surrounded by family and friends, Garcia's mother and sister, Rose and Melissa Athas, also wept loudly.

What do you think? Was justice served? Should pictures posted online be used against someone later in court, or is this an invasion of privacy?

Reader's comments on this article

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from Melissa
Monday, March 03, 2008 - 17:48


I am Andrew's little Sister. The newspaper can only include so much, and focus on what point they want to bring out the most. He was pleading for a lesser sentence claiming extreme remorse and guilt. Up until last month he was pleading not guilty, this trial has been going on for over 20 months now…way too long. What you read is only a small piece of the complete story. He was court ordered not to drink. This one time was not the only time he was caught drinking. He was also drinking the day after Andrew’s funeral, and seen drinking other places…no need to list…His dad bet him 200 dollars his drinking would get him into trouble, and it did, he killed Andrew, but continued to drink anyways. He video tapped Andrew's funeral and the eulogy he gave to use in court for his benefit, which was just sick. That was Andrew’s day not Joe’s day, who thinks of themselves while there friend is laying in a casket dead?? His hobbies on my space included 'not going to jail'. This is not an issue to joke about, or to be sarcastic about. He told our family he would not take the keys away from someone who had been drinking and driving. He needed to be standing up to people and telling them it is not okay to drink and drive, instead he wouldn't take the keys away from someone?? The list goes on… But, Joe received 10.4 years- the minimum guideline sentence (which is 10.4-15 years). He was trying to depart from that guideline sentence. But because his actions after killing Andrew, and the actions within the court room, Judge told him something to the effect of 'I don't see remorse here, I only see a man afraid to go to prison'. The Judge deals with cases like this everyday, it is her job to give the proper sentence. She did her job, she gave him a sentence she found appropriate. He didn’t learn a lesson, and now he has time to think about it. Maybe she saved someone else’s family and friends the pain of losing someone they love, maybe she saved Joe’s own life. It is the law, and he was not above it, no one is.

(reply to this comment)

From Samuel
Monday, March 03, 2008, 20:24


Thank you very much, Melissa. It is nice to hear from the other side.

I will begin by saying that I am sorry for your loss.

Now, I think the court ruling was fair, and I do hope that Eagan has learned his lesson. I beleive that the purpose behind prisons is to rehabilitate a criminal, and I do hope this will happen in Eagan's case. From what I've read, I feel that he is selfish and has no remorse for what he did. No, Tester, I don't think breaking the court order was his way of dealing.

My only problem with this was whether pictures posted on the internet should be admissable in court. There is that privacy issue. If someone posts those pictrues on the net themselves, then I view that as waiving their right to privacy. But what if someone else had posted them? And how would the court verify that?

Again, I think the court ruling was fair, and Joe needed to be punished, and that the admission of the pictures was appropriate in this case.

May God's peace be with you, Melissa.

(reply to this comment

from absolutely fair
Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 08:27

This is NOT a 10 year sentence for a DUI. It's for manslaughter! He killed someone because of his extreme recklessness. That sentence is fair enough!
(reply to this comment)
from Tester
Friday, February 29, 2008 - 08:57

I think that this was a little unfair considering that the person he killed was just as guilty as him. I mean he knew his buddy had been drinking and he was probably just as trashed as his buddy but he still felt it was OK to get in the car and be driven home. I bet you that the weekend before the other dude was the "designated drunk driver".

Also the fact that he used myspace pics of him drinking later on was ridiculous! That does not at all mean that he had no remorse, in fact it could be the way the guy is dealing with the pain of having killed his mate. We all have our own ways of dealing with pain and mine is to drink. I would probably be doing the same thing if I just accedently killed my friend.

I blame MAD. I do not feel that lower end offenders of DWI offenses are given a fair shake these days and the whole DWI system needs to be reevaluated and MAD, a private funded group needs to butt out!

(reply to this comment)
From Melissa
Monday, March 03, 2008, 18:00


Andrew learned his lesson, he got sentenced to life. Just because Andrew was Joe's friend does not take the accountability away from Joe. The law is the law. And no one is above it. Joe needed to be accountable. Joe's blood alcohol WAS above Andrew's and there is NO law against a passanger getting into a car after drinking. I don't think you should assume things and please be respectful. Andrew paid with his life, it was a horrible mistake he got into that car, but he was KILLED, he is never coming back, and he is not here to defend him self. I think you should just leave him out of it, and let him rest in peace. He will never get a second chance at life, Joe will...(reply to this comment

From cheeks
Saturday, March 01, 2008, 13:39

I don't think people who drink and drive are punished severely enough. If you cannot hold your alcohol, you shouldn't be drinking. If that was my kid, you bet I would be looking at the myspace page in hopes of getting some justice. If that was my kid ten years would not cut it. (reply to this comment
From ErikMagnusLehnsher
Friday, February 29, 2008, 18:03

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

I'm less indignant about a scenario where two friends are driving together and one dies than I am about someone killing another unsuspecting driver but I don't think 10 years is unreasonable. This is how deterrence works.

I don't see how MADD can be blamed though. It's not Moms Against Drinking...It's Moms Against Drunk Driving. (reply to this comment

Friday, February 29, 2008, 11:37


Mothers Against Drunk Driving(reply to this comment

from cheeks
Friday, February 29, 2008 - 07:57

He killed someone, I don't think ten years is a rough sentence. I know someone who is serving 14 for bank robbery and no one was injured. Bottom line don't drink and drive, and friends don't let friends drive drunk.
(reply to this comment)

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