Plains Twp. man struck boy in Wilkes-Barre in 2012

Last updated: June 02. 2014 11:09PM - 7511 Views
By - rdupuis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — The hit-and-run driver who killed a 5-year-old boy with his car believes the two-to-five-year prison sentence handed down against him last month was an abuse of the court’s discretion.

Thomas W. Letteer Jr., 24, in paperwork filed Monday, asks that Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. to consider both a lesser sentence and possibly boot camp as his penalty for running over Kevin Miller on Dec. 21, 2012.

The motion, filed on Letteer’s behalf by attorneys Allyson Kacmarski and Paul Galante, also alleges that Sklarosky improperly allowed testimony about Letteer consuming alcohol the night of the crash when Letteer was sentenced on May 1.

The Plains Township resident pleaded guilty in March to accidents involving death, a second-degree felony, in connection with the Dec. 21, 2012, crash that killed Kevin Miller on North Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors allege Letteer had been drinking at a West Wyoming house party prior to hitting Kevin Miller as the boy and his family were leaving a Christmas party, and that this was his motivation for fleeing.

Letteer’s motion counters that his plea agreement “specifically and intentionally omitted any reference to (Letteer’s) drinking due to its irrelevance to the charged offense.”

Efforts to reach District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis were not immediately successful on Monday afternoon.

Among Letteer’s arguments:

• He was eligible for boot camp, which would have required the judge’s recommendation.

“Despite his eligibility, and the clear benefit defendant would derive from participation in the boot camp program, this court denied defendant’s request,” the motion states, asking Sklarosky to reconsider.

• The court “abused its discretion in sentencing to an aggravated minimum range sentence of 24 months incarceration,” the motion states. With no prior criminal history, Letteer could have faced as little as one year in prison.

• Letteer took aim at Sklarosky for allowing testimony about him drinking before the hit-and-run.

Assistant District Attorney Alexis Falvello at sentencing produced a witness who testified Letteer had attended a party at his West Wyoming home that night and consumed alcohol while there.

• Letteer argues that Sklarosky abused his discretion “in considering the defendant’s alleged lack of remorse” in setting an aggravated minimum sentence of two years in prison.

Falvello, in her final remarks before sentencing, pointed out that Letteer used the word “I” 18 times in his brief remarks to the court, but never apologized directly to Kevin’s family.

• Letteer finally argues that the judge abused his discretion in considering pre-arrest statements made by Letteer to investigators when handing down sentence.

Two days after Kevin’s death, on Dec. 23, 2012, investigators said they spoke with Letteer at his home. Then, Letteer said he had not been in Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 21, and never goes to Wilkes-Barre, police said.

Letteer was not arrested until April 4, 2013.

Letteer is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Camp Hill in Cumberland County, according to the state Department of Corrections website.

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