'We have been victimized all over again;' Moms of drunk driving victims fight shock probation

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by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 10:11 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Should drunk drivers in fatal wrecks be eligible for shock probation?

Under current Kentucky law, those convicted felons are eligible to get out of prison early under shock probation, but determined mothers of drunk driving victims are again fighting to prohibit shock probation under those circumstances.

House Bill 28 would prohibit shock probation if a person is convicted of second-degree manslaughter or reckless homicide, and also found guilty of driving under the influence arising from the same case.  The bill would also allow the victim’s next-of-kin to ask the court to permit shock probation.

"Our loved ones lives and deaths have been devalued, devalued," testified an impassioned Debbie Moskwa at a hearing of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary on Thursday, "We have been victimized all over again because of the use of shock probation."

Moskwa's 24 year old son, Ricky, was killed by a drunk driver in a crash on I-71 in 2002, her husband critically injured.  A phone call awakened her at 2:45 in the morning. 

"I can hear myself screaming, 'They killed my baby.. over and over," Moskwa said.

“The person who killed my son was sentenced to 13 years in jail, but because of shock probation served only eight months,” Moskwa testified.  "This is not right, not fair, and with your help this law can be changed.”

Carolyn Scharf has spent more time at the state capitol fighting for the bill than the drunk driver who killed her 17 year old daughter spent in jail, shock probated after 63 days behind bars.

Anne Scharf, an Atherton High School valedictorian, was killed in Louisville's Seneca Park in 1985.

"She was on her way to go to a movie," Carolyn Scharf said.

"They want to make sure that this never happens to another mother in Kentucky again," said Rep. Julie Raque Adams (R) Louisville, the sponsor of HB 28.

The Senate passed a similar bill in 2008 and the House in 2009, yet it has yet to be approved by both chambers in the same year.

Since then, the Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has endorsed the prohibition of shock probation under these circumstances.

“(His office) questions the value of a policy that permits those convicted of unspeakable reckless and traumatic crimes to walk free after 30 days served on a multi-year sentence," Adams told the committee.  "Those individuals who recklessly disregard the safety of their fellow citizens by choosing to drink and drive deserve no benefit from legal technicalities.”

Scharf and Moskwa shared photos of their deceased children with a reporter.

"He's very proud and he's on my shoulder," Moskwa said, " and he's going to be there with me."

"She and Ricky are there with us," Scharf said.  "saying 'Go for it Mom.  Go for it.'"
 

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