An Arizona man was sentenced to 3 and a half years in federal prison on Monday in connection to his 2008 drunk driving accident that resulted in one death and two serious injuries. The Durango Herald reports that the collision occured within the boundaries of the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation in Colorado. Because the defendant, Valentino Kieyoani, is a Navajo Indian and the incident occured on an Indian reservation, the U.S District Attorney's Office handled the case.
The night of the incident, Mr. Kieyoani's vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic on U.S. Highway 160 and struck Lucille Wheeler's vehicle. When the police arrested Mr. Kieyoani in the Towaoc area, he had a reported blood-alcohol level of .205, which is over 2.5 times the legal limit. Ms. Wheeler's mother, Alice Wheeler, died in the accident. Lucille and her sister Lois were both treated for serious injuries and transported to a nearby hospital.
Mr. Kieyoani pleaded guilty in 2009 to one count of involuntarily manslaughter and two counts of assault causing serious bodily injury. But perhaps he is fortunate to be sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison. Had he been driving in his home state of Arizona, he would have probably been subjected to a harsher sentence; even with with a skilled Arizona DUI attorney.
The Grand Canyon state treats manslaughter as a class 2 felony, according to article 13-1103 of the Arizona Legislature. The Naturist Action Committee reports that a conviction of a class 2 felony in Arizona typically leads to five years in prison for a first time offense.