A speeding truck driver who smashed into a parked vehicle and killed two workers in an Interstate 69 construction zone will receive a lesser sentence after his conviction was partially vacated on appeal.
Jordan Stafford’s truck was traveling between 68 and 74 mph when it slammed into a parked work truck that struck and instantly killed workers Coty DeMoss and Kenneth Duerson on the morning of May 9, 2014. DeMoss and Duerson had been removing an operating flashing-arrow directional sign that alerted motorists to a lane closure on I-69 near 82nd Street in the Castleton area of Indianapolis.
Stafford was convicted of two counts of reckless operation in a highway work zone causing death, and he was sentenced to an aggregate term of 10 years in prison.
“Stafford contends that his one act of reckless driving in a highway work zone cannot sustain two convictions, even though it caused two deaths,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the panel. “In light of the Indiana Supreme Court’s holding in Kelly v. State, 539 N.E.2d 25 (Ind. 1989), we are constrained to agree. … While acknowledging the horrific results of Stafford’s recklessness, precedent requires that one of his two convictions be vacated.”
In Kelly, a man who killed one person and seriously injured another successfully challenged his convictions of operating while intoxicated resulting in death and OWI resulting in serious bodily injury. The COA, summarily affirmed by the Supreme Court, held in Kelly that two convictions based on conduct, not results, could not stand. Bradford wrote the panel found Stafford indistinguishable from Kelly.
“(W)e are required to vacate one of Stafford’s convictions for Class C felony reckless operation in a highway work zone causing death. Because we have vacated one of Stafford’s convictions, we do not reach his sentence challenge and, instead, remand for resentencing on the remaining conviction for Class C felony reckless operation in a highway work zone causing death. The trial court will impose the appropriate sentence as it sees fit under the facts of this case and the statutory sentencing range for this crime.”
The sentencing range for a Class C felony is two to eight years in prison. The case is Jordan Stafford v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1609-CR-2012.