Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

November 14, 2013

Drummond man gets deferred sentence in negligent homicide

ENID, Okla. — Robert Joseph Stonehocker was given a 10-year deferred sentence Thursday for causing an accident last year that resulted in the death of an Isabella man in October 2012.

Stonehocker, 30, of Drummond, was sentenced by Special District Judge Brian Lovell. He pleaded guilty in October to a charge of negligent homicide.

Justin Bedwell, 21, died in the accident.

The charge is a misdemeanor and the maximum penalty allowed by law is one year in jail. Lovell said he considered the penalty for a long time.  

“I think sentencing you to a year in jail is taking the easy way out,” Lovell said.

He also said he questioned the Legislature for making one year in jail adequate payment for a man’s life.

Lovell placed Stonehocker on probation for 10 years, until 2023. Stonehocker must serve 90 days in jail by Jan. 1, 2015. He must serve Nov. 25-29 and Dec. 23-27, 2013, in jail, as well as Nov. 24-28 and Dec. 22-26, 2014, in jail. The remaining 70 days will be served on other days, Lovell said.

Stonehocker will be under the supervision of the district attorney’s office for two years. He must attend a victim’s impact panel, pay court costs, a fine of $1,000, victim’s compensation assessment of $100 and $40 jail costs.

Lovell gave Stonehocker a strict list of conditions he must obey. If he does not obey them, Lovell said, his sentence could be accelerated and he could serve a year in jail.

The accident occurred Oct. 5, 2012, at the intersection of Skeleton and Stabe roads in Garfield County. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Jech investigated the accident and determined the accident was caused by Stonehocker driving too fast and failing to stop at a stop sign. The posted speed limit was 45 mph.  

At the start of Thursday’s proceeding, Jeff Bedwell, Justin Bedwell’s father, spoke to the court. He said Justin was a caring and thoughtful person and was becoming successful, both professionally and as an adult. His death leaves a wife with no husband, a child with no father, and denied his parents of their son and his brother and sister of their brother.

“We will forever have a huge hole in our hearts because of his loss,” Bedwell said.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Siegars said the OHP investigation showed Stonehocker was driving about 68-70 mph and did not stop at the stop sign in the intersection. Bedwell was driving below the 45 mph speed limit and had no stop sign in his lane. There were no skid marks from either car and Stonehocker’s vehicle struck the Bedwell car on the drivers side.

“It was a sudden impact. The investigation shows the defendant was driving 25 mph over the speed limit. Photos and memories are all the family has left,” Siegars said.

He recommended the full one year in jail as punishment for the crime.

After sentencing, Jeff Bedwell said he believed Lovell spoke on behalf of his family.

“It won’t bring Justin back, but it is probably appropriate to the situation,” Bedwell said.

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