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Victim’s age a factor in Sanders’ sentence

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La Crosse, Wis. - (WXOW) - A full courtroom for the sentencing of the man who killed a West Salem woman in a 2017 traffic accident.

David Sanders and his attorney entered a plea of guilty on a charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. However, before any sentence was handed down, friends and family of victim Maria Gartner had their chance to speak.

Many recalled that it was on July 25, 2017, when they were devastated to learn Maria, 26, had been killed in a two-car collision on County highway FO in the town of Greenfield.

The accident took place around 5:30 a.m. Police reported that it was Sanders who was driving a pick-up truck at 90 miles per hour and on the wrong side of the road when he hit Gartner's car head on.

"Maria should be with us and I should not have to speak about my daughter in the past tense," Cindy Gartner, Maria's mother said to Judge Ramona Gonzalez.

An outpouring of memories and emotions continued for an hour and half as each person addressed Judge Gonzalez. Each person also requested a maximum sentence of 10 years for Sanders.

John Sanders, David's father, also spoke, beginning with an apology to the Gartner family.

"Parents should not have to write an obituary for their child," John Sanders said.

District Attorney Tim Gruenke said that prison time, not extended supervision, would be the proper sentence given the complete negligence of Sander's actions.

"Decisions and the impact of those decisions, demands you pay the price," said Judge Gonzalez. Before making her ruling, she had a photo of Maria placed upon her bench facing out to Sanders.

She sentenced Sanders to 26 months jail time, a month for every year of Maria's age. Additionally she added the maximum of extended supervision, 60 months.

Roger Staffaroni

Assignment Editor

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