WILKES-BARRE – A Jenkins Township man charged with causing a crash that killed two people in September in Pittston Township was sentenced Monday to 6 ½ to 25 years in state prison.
“I feel you are a danger to this community,” Judge Michael Vough said after sentencing Walter Raven, 60, to the lengthy prison term on six related charges.
Prosecutors say Raven drove a Buick into the path of a motorcycle operated by Donnie Pizano, 38, on state Route 315 on Sept. 2.
Pizano and a passenger on the motorcycle, Robin Walsh, 39, both of Plains Township, were killed in the crash.
Vough apologized to the families of Pizano and Walsh in court Monday, noting no sentence he could hand down would bring back either of their loved ones.
The judge noted that Raven may have been involved in an accident, but it was no accident that he was behind the wheel the night of the crash and driving with a suspended license.
“You had no right or privilege to be driving,” Vough said.
Two of Raven’s friends and his sister spoke Monday, calling Raven a kind man who is remorseful.
Raven spoke briefly before being sentenced, saying he never intended to hurt anyone that night.
“I never thought I would be here … for something like this,” Raven said. “Now, I have a fear of being behind the wheel. I feel terrible.”
Raven said that when the crash occurred he didn’t know what had happened, and that he certainly did not know he had killed two people.
“There is no way he did not know what happened,” Assistant District Attorney Mamie Phillips said, handing photos of Raven’s vehicle after the crash to Vough. Phillips noted the car had significant damage and there was glass inside the vehicle.
Phillips said Raven has written several letters to the District Attorney’s Office and Vough in which he allegedly stated that he initially thought he “was a victim of hit-and-run.”
Phillips said that although Raven has said he is sorry for what happened, he continually puts himself first, an indication he does not feel remorse.
Raven’s attorney, John Pike, said his client has suffered from a number of medical conditions and has undergone several surgeries. Pike also said Raven has helped state police make a number of arrests while working as a confidential informant in drug cases.
Pike said a number of arrests and convictions could be attributed to Raven’s work as a confidential informant.
“This is a horrible, tragic accident,” Pike said. “He did not set out that day to kill someone. … It was an accident.”
Pike said that because of Raven’s work as a confidential informant Raven has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty in May.
Vough ultimately ran each sentence on the six charges consecutively rather than concurrently, totaling 6 ½ to 25 years. Raven faced a minimum of one year on each of two counts of accidents involving death or injury.
Prosecutors say that after the crash, Raven and his friend Daniel Antonini used a pressure washer to clean the Buick.
Antonini, 46, of Wilkes-Barre, was sentenced last month to 17 days time services to 12 months in county prison and immediately paroled.
Antonini had pleaded guilty earlier in the month to a charge of tampering with evidence.