Hit-and-run driver also claims he should have been considered for boot camp, documents reveal

Last updated: July 09. 2014 11:44PM - 2654 Views
By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com

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WILKES-BARRE — The Plains Township motorist who admitted guilt in the hit-and-run death of a 5-year-old boy plans to appeal his sentence by arguing that Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. abused his discretion by exceeding the sentence guidelines and by not finding Letteer eligible for boot camp, among other reasons.

Thomas W. Letteer Jr., 24, filed notice last month that he intends to appeal his two-to-five-year sentence in connection with the Dec. 21, 2012, traffic death of Kevin Miller, of Dallas.

Letteer in May was sentenced to serve two to five years in prison. In paperwork filed last month, Letteer asked Sklarosky to consider both a lesser sentence and possibly boot camp.

Sklarosky on June 10 rejected that initial appeal by Letteer, whose appeal now heads to state Superior Court.

Documents filed on Letteer’s behalf on Wednesday outlined the details of Letteer’s intended appeal follow, as directed under a June 23 order by Sklarosky requiring the defendant and his lawyers to identify each ruling and error that the guilty man plans to challenge, “with sufficient detail to identify all pertinent issues for the judge.”

Appeal attorney Matthew P. Kelly indicated the appeal will address:

• Whether Sklarosky erred by exceeding the 12-to-16-month sentence guideline range when he handed down an aggravated, 24-month minimum sentence.

• Whether Sklarosky erred by allowing testimony in which it was alleged that Letteer had been consuming alcoholic beverages prior to the crash, noting that Letteer pleaded guilty to accidents involving death or personal injury, and that law does not require evidence of drinking or intoxication.

• Whether Sklarosky erred “in finding and considering the defendant’s alleged lack of remorse as a basis for sentencing in the aggravated range despite defendant entering a guilty plea.”

The prosecution now has 28 days to respond.

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

While Letteer sat in prison awaiting an appeal of his sentence, efforts by Kevin’s family, supporters and the region’s state legislators culminated June 30 in the passage of “Kevin’s Law.”

Formally Senate Bill 1312 — a transportation measure covering several different highway-related issues — the provision increasing the minimum penalty for leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash from one to three years was passed by the state Senate on June 30 and signed into law the same day by Gov. Tom Corbett.

That legislation closed Pennsylvania’s hit-and-run “loophole” — under which leaving the scene of a fatal crash carried a lesser minimum sentence than a DUI homicide.

The law takes effect 60 days after Corbett signed it.

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