Judge sentences woman to four and a half years for vehicular homicide near Malone

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Friends and family wear sweatshirts with the victim’s picture on it.

Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Gordon Godfrey sentenced Wendy Cooper to 54 months in prison for vehicular homicide in the death of a 19-year-old Aberdeen man for a crash that happened in January of last year near Malone.

Godfrey said during Tuesday’s sentencing that he wished he could have sentenced Cooper to a longer sentence, but state law limited his ability.

“Is the life of a human being worth 54 months less good time, less this, less that?” Godfrey mused. “Especially when you sit and listen to the facts of a case.”

Lucio Stanton was a passenger in the vehicle when Cooper drove headfirst into a truck on Highway 12 south of Elma. Stanton died at the scene and a 75-year-old man driving the truck and his 72-year-old wife suffered massive injuries, but survived. Godfrey also sentenced Cooper to 29 months for two counts of vehicular assaults, as well as six months for possession of methamphetamine.

Those aspects of the sentence will be served at the same time as the homicide sentence. “Not only has a young man passed; what about the two people who were maimed for the rest of their lives?” Godfrey said. “I cannot deny that I am fairly close to the age of those two people and I’m not so sure I would want to be hanging around with those kinds of injuries suffering for the rest of my life like they have. I’m maybe remorseful, but the leniency in these types of sentencing is ridiculous. … And I don’t think the leniency in this type of sentencing serves as any kind of example. … It’s like you’re sentenced for one and the other two are free.” Prosecutor Jason Walker noted, “The fingerprints of meth were all over this case.”

But d efense attorney David Mistachkin said that Cooper was never proven to be under the influence of meth as she was driving. “I’m really sorry that this happened,” Cooper told Judge Godfrey and the court.

There were dozens of people in the audience wearing sweatshirts with Stanton’s picture on the front along with the dates of his birth and death.

Cooper apologized to the victim’s family: “I’m not the same person I was before this happened,” she said.

Lena Campbell, a family friend of Stanton’s, asked the judge to sentence Cooper to the maximum sentence allowed, calling for “justice” for the family. “There are three families that have been hurt by this,” she said. After the sentence was announced, Mistachkin noted that Cooper had decided not to appeal the matter.

Watch video of the sentencing at facebook.com/thevidette