By Calvin Palmer
A Texas drunk driver was today sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty in the death of a 13-year-old girl.
John Jacob Winne, 32, was drunk when he ran three stop signs in his white Lexus, hit the school bus Nicole Lalime was exiting and ran the girl over on December 16, 2008, at the intersection of Lynn and East Cypress Forest in Houston.
Sate District Judge Joan Campbell sentenced him to 30 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter and 10 years for failure to stop and render aid. The sentences will run concurrently. Winne will have to serve at least 15 years, before he is eligible for parole.
Winne’s attorney, Sean McAlister, said his client was remorseful.
“This is a tragedy,” McAlister said. “But I want people to know he’s not a monster. He’s just not that way.”
No. He is not a monster by any means. Winne is just one of a growing number of selfish, stupid and inconsiderate people who think that the laws of any given state do not apply to them. He already had two previous DUI convictions and clearly had not learned his lesson. For Winne and his ilk, and they are in every community in the United States, it is all about having a good time and to hell with the consequences.
If Winne was not drinking at home and alone before he set out in his vehicle, the people he was drinking with and those supplying with him alcohol are, in my opinion, guilty of aiding and abetting the death of Lalime. They knew how much Winne had drunk and that he intended to drive a vehicle. What was stop any of them from persuading him to stay put or call a taxi? And if he became belligerent, the police could have been called.
It appears that the good-time mentality hypnotizes people and makes them forget their responsibility not only to themselves but also others. But for them others, outside their boozy circle, simply do not count.
A good many people will read this story and say to themselves: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Perhaps, the sentence handed down to Winne will give them pause for a sobering thought about their behavior. The tragedy might register for a nanosecond before the cry goes out, “Same again, barman.”
[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]