Court filing says hit-and-run defendant using drugs, showing lack of contrition

Last updated: April 28. 2014 11:38PM - 5856 Views
By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com

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WILKES-BARRE — Prosecutors say hit-and-run defendant Thomas Letteer isn’t contrite about killing a little boy with a car 16 months ago, has tested positive for drugs since his guilty plea last month and deserves an “aggravated range” sentence approaching 10 years in prison.

“He is more concerned about getting high than following the order of this court,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed Monday by Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis and ADAs Alexis Falvello and Mamie Phillips.

Letteer, 24, pleaded guilty in March to accidents involving death, a second-degree felony — which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine — for causing the death of 5-year-old Kevin Miller four days before Christmas in 2012.

Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. accepted Letteer’s plea on March 10. He remains free on $200,000 bail, with sentencing set for Thursday.

According to the prosecution’s memorandum, information received by prosecutors revealed that Letteer has tested positive for marijuana and has diluted his drug-test samples since his plea.

“This information is especially disconcerting to the Commonwealth in light of the review of the Luzerne County Adult Probation Department’s pre-sentence investigation in this case where defendant indicated that he has not used drugs and does not need a drug and alcohol evaluation as part of any sentence imposed,” Salavantis and the ADAs wrote

“The Commonwealth avers that the defendant cannot be effectively rehabilitated if he is less than forthcoming about his drug and alcohol issues,” they wrote, adding that “the Commonwealth submits that this shows that he is not contrite about his actions.”

Failed to stop

Wilkes-Barre City police and Luzerne County detectives alleged Letteer was driving a car that struck Kevin on North Street, Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 21, 2012.

An autopsy showed Kevin died from multiple traumatic injuries, according to the Luzerne County Coroner’s office.

Letteer failed to stop and sped away, police said. Investigators later traced Letteer to North Street through cell phone records, which showed calls processed through cell towers on the King’s College campus and Public Square.

Investigators said they spoke with Letteer at his Plains Township home on Dec. 23, 2012, where a vehicle matching the description of the car that struck Kevin was located. At that time, Letteer said he had not been in Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 21 and never goes to Wilkes-Barre, police said.

Police obtained a warrant and seized the Pontiac Grand Am on Jan. 4, 2013.

Letteer was not arrested until April 2013.

Monday’s memorandum indicates that prosecutors are prepared to call witnesses who will provide “background information” on Letteer’s whereabouts the night of the incident, as well as his alcohol consumption at a West Wyoming house party “prior to him getting into his father’s 1999 red Pontiac Grand Am and hitting and killing Kevin Miller.”

Witnesses previously told investigators that after the house party was over, the party-goers were headed to Rodano’s on Public Square, but that Letteer never showed up.

Terms of plea

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Letteer will be responsible to pay a total of $27,549 in restitution to cover investigation costs and the autopsy.

In their memorandum, prosecutors say that the nature of the crime, including Kevin’s age and Letteer’s actions, call for a sentence toward the upper end of the range.

“The Commonwealth acknowledges that this was not an intentional act on the part of the defendant. The defendant did not wake up on the morning of Dec. 21, 2012 with the intent to hit and kill five-year-old Kevin Miller. However, the defendant did not do anything to make a horrible situation any less tragic,” prosecutors wrote.

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