(Palmer, AK) – Palmer Superior Court Judge John Cagle sentenced 26-year-old Kattie May Wilmarth, yesterday, to a composite sentence of five and a half years with four years, 160 days, suspended and five years’ supervised probation for one count of criminal negligent homicide for causing the death of 22-year-old Alex Duny, of Anchorage.
Palmer resident Wilmarth drove a truck under the influence of alcohol and drugs with passengers in the cab and pickup bed and collided into a tree at more than 50 mph.
Wilmarth’s other convictions are one consolidated count of assault in the third degree for causing physical injury with a dangerous instrument to Robert Jason Cole, now age 40, of Palmer, Tatyana Joe, 22, of Anchorage, and Joshua Selman, 27, of Palmer, and one count of driving under the influence.
On July 24, 2021, at 6:40 a.m., Alaska State Troopers in Palmer, (AST), received a report of a single vehicle crash on Maud Road in Butte. AST discovered a white 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 stopped against a tree on the left side of the road; the front end of the truck had impacted the tree. AST identified Wilmarth as the driver. Tatyana Joe and Robert Cole had been riding inside the cab. Alex Duny and Joshua Selman had been riding in the bed of the truck. AST detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Wilmarth; she admitted to drinking prior to driving. She displayed six clues on the HGN test and refused the other standardized field sobriety tests. She said she was driving because she was the most sober amongst the five people in the truck. She later said she saw a moose run onto the roadway. Toxicology results showed low levels of alcohol, methamphetamine and marijuana.
AST downloaded the data from the crash data recorder and discovered that the truck had been traveling 55 miles per hour five seconds from the event with aggressive steering inputs and the yaw angle rapidly changing. The speed limit on Maud Road is 25 miles per hour with potholes and ruts.
The defendant’s passengers and Ms. Joe on behalf of Alex Duny consistently requested that the District Attorney’s Office minimize any punishment it sought for the defendant. As Ms. Joe told the undersigned prosecutor, Alex would want the defendant to receive forgiveness, as stated in the sentencing memorandum.
It may be true that she was the most sober person of the five that morning, but that does not mean it is lawful or proper for her to make the decision to drive and endanger herself, her passengers, and anyone else that may happen to be on the road with her. … Too many people don’t have a plan. And if a person is designated as the sober driver, this does not mean they can consume a little or less than their friends. Being a sober driver means abstaining from any alcohol or drugs. The defendant thought she was a sober driver, and she was wrong, as stated in the memorandum.
In court, Assistant District Attorney David Buettner said “We respect the surviving members’ input and the thoughts of Alex’s mom. However, the community has an independent interest in holding impaired drivers accountable, and as the community’s representative, I cannot ignore that community interest and simply drop a matter like this. The agreement still holds an impaired driver accountable while taking into account Kattie’s relative youthfulness, lack of criminal history, remorsefulness expressed in her statement, and the steps to obtain treatment she has pursued.”
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