District attorney calls sentence 'travesty of justice'

After three drunk driving convictions with the latest resulting in the death of a man walking down the street prosecutors thought they had succeeded in sending Robert McGhee to prison. 9NEWS at 6 p.m. 2/4/16.

WHEAT RIDGE - Candice Gilmore will never get her father back. But, she was hoping through the court system that she would find justice.

"It's an unfair sentence to the family. That's how we all feel," Gilmore said.

Her father John Gilmore was walking home from work in November 2014 when he was struck by a drunk driver at the corner of 38th Avenue and Tabor Court in Wheat Ridge. He died a few days later from his injuries.

"Our father, he was a brother. He was a grandfather," Gilmore said.

One year after the tragedy, Robert McGhee was convicted of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence. It was his third DUI conviction.

"This is an individual that had not learned a lesson," District Attorney Peter Weir said. "This case clearly, clearly cried out for prison."

McGhee faced a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison. 

"I know the family would've liked to have seen a maximum sentence," Weir said.

Instead, Judge Kenneth Plotz issued a sentence of five years in community corrections and one year in jail. Weir says what that really amounts to is six months in a treatment center then McGhee could be back on the streets. He calls the sentence a "travesty of justice".

"I don't believe six months in a residential facility, given his attitude, given his history, is justice," Weir said.

Weir says in court McGhee refused to take responsibility for his actions.

"Mr. McGhee continued to blame the victim, did not stand up and take responsibility for his actions," Weir said.

Gilmore says her family could not believe the sentence.

"Metaphorically and physically, gave us a slap to the face," Gilmore said.

Lisa Fine Moses is McGhee's defense attorney. She says multiple people in the community showed their support for McGhee, who has vowed to remain sober since the crash. She released this statement:

"The Court was presented with evidence supporting Mr. McGhee's ability to contribute to society.  Mr. McGhee feels tremendous remorse about this tragedy.  Since his release on bond in November, 2014, Mr. McGhee has been on a SCRAM unit, measuring any alcohol use.  There have been no violations, showing that he has remained sober.  He completed out-patient alcohol treatment.  Further, Mr. McGhee and a juror on his trial have worked together and have spoken to many high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving. This presentation was done through Drive Smart, who works closely with law enforcement, and the feedback has been amazing.  It is positively impacting young people.  Mr. McGhee has done all of these things in an effort to honor the death of Mr. Gilmore and to try to stop others from making the tragic mistake that he made."

Gilmore doesn't believe McGhee has changed.

"I don't feel like it is honest that he made a change," Gilmore said.

Judge Plotz says he cannot comment on any specific case, but he did say under Title 18 of the Code of Law, judges must weigh different factors during sentencing. He says that is always a "difficult decision."

(© 2016 KUSA)


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