While family members of two people who were killed by a drunk driver struggled Friday, Jan. 8, at his sentencing to come to grips with their loss, the mother of one young victim declared, “I don’t understand why we could have a war on terror, a war on drugs, but not a war on DUI murderers.”
The comments came during the sentencing of Shannon Kelly Shimp, 36, who got the maximum term of 16 years in state prison for what a jury convicted him of on Sept. 18.
Relatives of Ian Kinney, 19, of Julian, and Joseph Edwards, 52, of Ramona, expressed dismay that the jury acquitted Shimp of two counts of second-degree murder.
Shimp was found guilty of two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, drunk driving, and drunk driving with injuries during the July 22, 2008, incident at 6 p.m. on state Route 78 near Ramona. Had Shimp, of El Cajon, been convicted of two second-degree murder counts, he would likely have been sentenced to more than 30 years to life in prison.
The courtroom was packed with family and friends of the victims and of Shimp. Many of their faces were etched in grief, sadness and sometimes anger. Shimp cried softly throughout and repeatedly tried to dab tissues to his face while he was handcuffed and dressed in blue jail clothing.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos said that, while Shimp “has genuine remorse,” he also noted that Shimp was driving “a one ton truck that turned it into this lethal weapon.” Exarhos said Shimp had left Molly Malone’s in Ramona after a bartender stopped serving him drinks and Shimp also had methamphetamine in his system.
Exarhos ordered him to pay restitution to the families at an amount to be determined at a future hearing and a $1,000 fine. He gave him credit for serving 536 days in jail.
He imposed 10 years for the death of Ian Kinney, and three years for the death of Edwards, who was Shimp’s passenger in a white flatbed truck. Kinney was driving a Lexus and Shimp plowed head-on into the Lexus while in the westbound lane as he tried to pass three vehicles.
Exarhos added three years consecutively for the great bodily injuries suffered by Kinney’s girlfriend, Tessa Medearis, 19, who suffered broken hands and feet and fractures of her nose, rib, and elbow.
Ian Kinney’s mother, Deborah Kinney, told the judge there are more people killed in drunk driving crashes than are lost in wars.
“I don’t understand why we could have a war on terror, a war on drugs, but not a war on DUI murderers. I feel our laws have to change,” she added. “We have to protect (people).”
Deborah Kinney also made reference to recent drunk driving victims, a pregnant woman on New Year’s Day in San Diego.
Scott Kinney, the victim’s father, said Shimp had “crushed away the lives of two...with depraved indifference.” He said his son’s death left the family “a hellish nightmare that we cannot escape from.”