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The young father behind a DUI crash that led to the amputation of a motorcyclist's leg was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday.
Angel Morales, 22, of Claremore, Oklahoma, had pleaded guilty to DUI in the 2013 crash, reports the Tulsa World. In addition to the DUI charges, Morales was also charged with three counts of child endangerment for having three of his children in his relative's Cadillac Escalade at the time of the crash.
What did the victim do in this case to encourage the judge to put Morales behind bars?
Under Oklahoma law, crime victims or family members of crime victims have the right to appear personally at sentencing or parole proceedings and provide a victim impact statement. In cases in which the defendant has entered into a plea bargain, the Oklahoma statute requires that "In determining the appropriate sentence, the court shall consider among other factors any victim impact statements if submitted to the jury, or the judge in the event a jury was waived."
In this case, the motorcyclist involved in Morales' DUI accident, 34-year-old Bradley Wilkerson, read a 30-page victim impact statement to the court. In addition to explaining the extent to which his injuries have impacted his life, at one point Wilkerson -- whose left leg was amputated above the knee following the crash -- removed his prosthetic leg to show the court his scarred stump.
Wilkerson also suffered a ruptured aorta, collapsed lungs, and broken ribs in the crash. He told the court the crash had ruined him financially, the World reports.
Following the 2013 crash, Morales -- who did not have a driver's license -- admitted to having smoked marijuana and drank beer earlier in the day. Toxicology tests showed the presence of alcohol, cannabis, hydrocodone, alprazolam, benzodiazepine, and opiates in Morales' system. At the time of the accident, there were seven people in the vehicle, including Morales' three children.
In addition to the felony DUI with great bodily injury and child endangerment charges, Morales was also convicted on two drug counts and two other misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer and escaping arrest or detention.
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