The original bail set upon Graham's arrest was $75,000. However, the prosecutor, Aaron Petersen, appears determined to make sure this guy doesn't get wrist-slapped, so he requested bail at $500,000. But Judge Henderson said that $100,000 cash would be more in line with similar cases. Judge Henderson, who is up for retention in 2016, also appointed a public defender for Graham, who earns $1,600 every two weeks plus a commission which can reach $4,000 on rare occasion. There will be a pre-indictment hearing on August 15th.
A celebration of life for Brooke McPheters and Jordyn Durr will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday August 20th at Changepoint Church, located at 6689 Changepoint Drive in Anchorage. The public is invited, but no cameras, audio devices or media will be allowed at the event. Before that, the Anchorage Police Department will hold a community rally on alcohol-related crashes at West High School at 1700 Hillcrest Dr. from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Friday August 16th.
On August 12th, Alaska Dispatch provided some useful background on how the case might proceed. Assistant District Attorney Joshua Kindred noted that since Alaska doesn’t have a vehicular homicide statute, which in many states outlines the penalties for deaths involving a vehicle, prosecutors here are instead left with a judgment call when an offense crosses the line from manslaughter to second degree murder. Consequently, the decision stems from the facts surrounding a given case, but to obtain a conviction on second degree murder, prosecutors will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was egregious or criminally negligent. Juries are asked to take four major factors in determining whether a person acted extremely recklessly:
(1). Did the defendant's behavior had any "social use" or were there any redeeming characteristics? In other words, was the defendant driving recklessly in order to fulfill a lawful purpose. such as taking one's spouse to the hospital or trying to get to work on time. This has not yet been established.
(2). The magnitude of the risk the defendant was taking. Having a BAC three times over the limit could be considered a major risk; most people would know by their own diminished motor skills whether or not they were that far over the limit. The Anchorage Daily News reports that Graham attended a golf tournament at Eagleglen Golf Course on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hosted by his employer, Puget Sound Pipe and Supply on Friday August 9th, but it is unknown if Graham drank at the event. The event ended at 2:30 p.m., while the accident happened around 6:45 p.m
(3). The defendant's knowledge and understanding of the risk.
(4). Did the defendant take any precautions to minimize that risk? It does not appear that this was the case at first glance.
If convicted of murder in the second degree, Graham will face a sentence two to three times longer than a manslaughter conviction. For manslaughter charges, convicted first-time felony offenders face seven to 11 years in prison, at the judge’s discretion. Murder in the second degree generally garners sentences of 20 to 30 years, even though the specified range is 10-99 years. For a comparison, Lori Phillips, who committed a similar offense and who had a history of drunk driving, was charged with murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In contrast, Graham has no history of DUI, but many people who are caught for DUI the first time have driven while intoxicated in the past. Rarely does someone get caught for DUI the very first time they drive over the limit.
The comments section of the various media continue to percolate with understandable outrage. Some fail to distinguish between social drinkers and problem drinkers; one person even advocates mandatory breathalyzer installation in all vehicles. One person thinks Graham's employer should share responsibility. But one person keeps it in perspective:
aktrir August 13th 3:50 P.M:
Why do we insist on trying to blame everyone else other than the one who did wrong? There is one person who chose to drink, then chose to drive after drinking and caused this. Put the blame where it belongs.
Exactly. Punish the perpetrator, not society. Change the predominant culture which glamorizes drinking and hell-raising.