Judge Won’t Reduce Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Sentence
Tanner Vasquez, who killed two others in a crash three years ago, will continue to serve his eight-year sentence for aggravated vehicular homicide, a judge ruled Wednesday.
"There's no sufficient showing (of evidence) for a sentence reduction or modification," Natrona County District Judge Thomas Sullins said.
Vasquez and his public defender Rob Oldham had filed a motion to modify the sentence Suillins because of severe mental health issues.
Oldham told Sullins that Vasquez will never be the same after the brain trauma suffered in the Oct. 31, 2011, crash north of Casper.
Vasquez was driving north on Bryan Stock Trail near Amoco Road at a high rate of speed, sideswiped a stopped vehicle, and then drove into a ditch, according to police records.
Two passengers died from the crash, another survived, and Vasquez was placed on life support and later recovered.
Upon further investigation, officers found two cans of Dust Off inside Vasquez’s vehicle and a blood test confirmed that Vasquez had inhaled some of it.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and Sullins sentenced him in June 2013, to seven-to-eight-years in prison.
Wednesday, Oldham told Sullins the mental health issues have caused problems for Vasquez in the Wyoming State Penitentiary where inmates play tricks on him and mistreat him.
His behavior has caused him to be locked up in isolation, which further aggravates his anti-social behavior, he said.
Vasquez recently wrote a letter to Sullins outlining his problems, and the judge said he was impressed with Vasquez's strong cognitive skills.
Vasquez, Oldham said, has periods of lucidity and incoherence, and he probably took a long time to write that letter.
Oldham also said state law allows judges to significantly reduce sentences for felons, citing one case in which a man served only two-and-a-half months for a more than five-year term.
But Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen responded that the case Oldham referred to involved aggravated burglary.
"Here you have two dead people," Itzen said, pointing to the deceased victims' families in the courtroom.
Sullins considered these arguments, adding that he's received reports that Vasquez has been integrated into and understands the rules of his unit in the prison.
He also said there was nothing illegal or improper about the sentencing procedures, and that the long sentencing hearing last year was thorough.
Vasquez spoke to the court by telephone from the prison.
Prison officials have blocked his efforts to enter some programs and punished him for his efforts, he said. "Almost every time I send in a request, I get sent to the hole."
Sullins acknowledged those matters, but said they are for the Department of Corrections to resolve and are outside the court's responsibility.