Butler County Times Gazette
  • Driver sentenced to prison for accident that injured teacher

  • After an emotional afternoon of family testimony Monday, a man charged with critically injuring a McPherson teacher in a DUI accident was sentenced in McPherson District Court.
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  • After an emotional afternoon of family testimony Monday, a man charged with critically injuring a McPherson teacher in a DUI accident was sentenced in McPherson District Court.
    Jeffrey Paul Davis was sentenced to 34 months in prison, with 24 months of post-release supervision.
    He already has served six months in prison and has the opportunity to earn up to five months in sentence reduction for good behavior. This means he may serve as little as 23.1 months in prison.
    Stockman received a severe brain injury in a three-car accident on Dec. 20, 2013. Davis’ vehicle hit Stockman’s vehicle head on.
    Within three hours of the accident, Davis’ blood alcohol level was measured at .18. It is illegal to drive at a level of .8 or above.
    Mija Stockman appeared at the sentencing hearing in person in a wheelchair. Special arrangements were made to transport her from the rehabilitation center  were she is recovering in Gardner.
    In her statement to the court, Kathy Lysell, Mija’ mother, recalled her daughter as a happy young women who loved to sing, her family and her work as a teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School.
    Mija’s mother, who has been by her daughter’s side almost every day since the accident, also discussed the physical hardships Mija has endured since the accident.
    Mija has little mobility on her left side. She can’t lift her arms and legs. She struggles to swallow even simple fluids. She is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other.
    Kathy Lysell pleaded with the court to hold Davis, who has two prior DUIs, accountable for what he has done.
    “You had a history of DUI,” Lysell said in reference to Davis. “You had little or no regard for other people. It was a selfish and dangerous decision you had made multiple times. I cannot forgive you causing so much pain and suffering.”
    Lysell continued, “You are going to get a short sentence compared to the life sentenced you have imposed on Mija and her family.”
    Eryn Stockman, 19, Mija’s oldest daughter, struggled through tears as she read letters from her two younger sisters, Brynne, 15, and Taylor, 10, and then addressed the judge in her own words.
    Taylor said she missed cuddling with her mother.
    Brynne, who was a freshman in high school when the accident happened, said her life has been stressful and full of heartache since her mother’s accident.
    Erin, who was a college freshman when her mother’s accident happened, remembered joking with her mom about doing the laundry the morning of her accident and the last words “Love you,” coming from her mom.
    Page 2 of 3 - Erin has taken on caring for her sisters during her mother’s recovery — the hardest thing she says she has ever had to do in her 19 years.
    Shawn Stockman also struggled with tears as he made his statement to the court.
    He expressed his anger at Davis.
    “I just wanted it to be an unfortunate accident,” he said. “I did not want her to be a statistic. My wife doesn’t deserve any of this.”
    He described how the couple had saved in hopes of traveling in retirement. Now those funds will be spent on medical bills and a 24-hour nurse when she comes home.
    Davis’ criminal history placed him in what is called a border box, which means the judge could have decided to depart from the standard prison term and grant Davis probation.
    Davis’ defense attorney argued probation would allow Davis to receive alcohol abuse treatment and reduce his likelihood of offending again.
    However, County Attorney Davis Page argued Davis had not shown signs of remorse. He sited an answer in a written questionnaire for a substance abuse evaluation in which he said he did not feel bad or guilty about his use of alcohol.
    Davis addressed the court and Stockman’s family, saying, “I know it is impossible for you to forgive me, but I have asked our heavenly father for forgiveness. I am very sorry.”
    Upon sentencing, Judge Walker said he preferred rehabilitation and treatment over prison. However, he said he thought the immediate public safety was the deciding factor in the case.
    “I know for the next two years he will be out of reach and not be able to hurt people,” Walker said.
    Richard Walker said he was very torn about the case.
    “I don’t feel comfortable about this decision,” he said, “and I know I won’t have felt comfortable about anything else. There is nothing comfortable about this case.”
    The sentencing in this case will not be final until restitution has been set, which Page has estimated could be in the range of $1 million.
    After the sentencing, Page said he was pleased with the decision. The defense attorney gave no comment.
    Mija Stockman was able to return home briefly to Lindsborg where her family was finally able to have the Christmas they never had last December. A Christmas tree has remained up and packages unopened since Mija’s accident. Mija then returned to the Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Hospital in Gardner.
    After the sentencing, Shawn Stockman said his family was pleased with the judge’s decision.
    “Obviously punishment in regards to the pain and suffering he has caused will never be equal according to the laws that are set at this time,” Stockman said. “There are no winners in this case.
    Page 3 of 3 - “The only thing for sure is Jeffrey Davis will be off the streets 23 months with good time. What happens from there is on him. It is his decision, and he will have some time to think about it.”
    Shawn Stockman said he and his family are now looking to the future.
    “As for us, a weight has been lifted up off us,” he said. “This was a big, emotional day we had been dreading, yet looking forward to in same respect to get behind us.
    “At this point, our family will continue to move forward with our new life.”

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