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Man Goes To Prison In Crash Case

By Staff | Jun 3, 2015

Zachery Arnold Coen, 25, of 228 Steel St., Middlebourne, appeared in Tyler County Circuit Court on Thursday, May 21, for a scheduled sentencing hearing.

Coen had been indicted on a two count indictment, by the February term of the Tyler County Grand Jury, charging him with the felony offense, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death. He was also charged with a misdemeanour offense of driving revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol-first offense. All of the charges are to have occurred on or about August 29, 2014 in Tyler County.

On April 7, Coen pleaded guilty to the charges in a plea agreement with the state. Coen, admitted that on August 29, 2014, while driving home from work, he struck an individual who was having vehicle problems and he then failed to stop, he also admitted to driving on a license revoked for DUI. He said the visibility was not good due to foggy conditions, contributing to the accident. Coen said he became scared and drove home, and then later lied to Sheriff’s officer’s, denying he was involved in the accident.

At Thursday’s hearing Judge David H. Hummel, Jr., asked Prosecutor Luke Furbee and Defense Attorney John Gainer if they had anything to add to the pre-sentence report. Both answered they had nothing to add. Hummel, then told Coen it was his time to tell the court anything and everything he would like to have considered prior to sentencing, Hummel also said he would give Mr. Gainer an opportunity to address the court as well. He told Coen he would not be cross examined and anything he said would be considered, Hummel said he had not decided sentencing yet but had come prepared to do so.

“Your honor I’m here today because I left the scene of an accident, I’m fairly positive I shouldn’t have done that but when your scared you try to do what you need to and I made the wrong decision and left, I didn’t run or try to escape justice or anything like that,” Coen said. “I’m sorry for the events that happened before that, and I can’t change that.”

Coen then said his mother Shelly Coen, would like to say a few words, she came forward in tears and said she would like to see her son get probation and she was really sorry for how things turned out.

John Gainer, spoke next on his clients behalf telling the court his client did leave the scene but at the same time he is sorry for what he’s done. “He has a family to support and he is employed at this time,” he said. He went on to ask for alternate sentencing in regards to the felony charge, weather it be work release, home confinement or probation.

Furbee than addressed the court saying, he feels this is a difficult case. He said probably all of us who have driven a car for a long period of time can recall when we have struck something but did not know what, but in this case the car struck a man and the windshield was cracked.

“But the key here is why was he driving in the first place, he was not supposed to be driving, he was revoked he didn’t have a drivers license.” Furbee said.

He went on to say that there was nothing that Coen could have done if he had stopped that would have helped, that is the evidence in this case, there is nothing he could have done, but the intent of the law is for him to at least check on him and make sure. That’s the duty that falls on him by law.

“Did he panic because he hit a man or did he panic because he didn’t want to go to jail or both.” Furbee asked. “When he was first approached by Deputy Pratt he didn’t run but he gave some alternative senerio as to what happened.”

He claimed he hit a deer said Furbee.

Furbee stated, the victims mother and daughter are here in the courtroom today and she has indicated to me that she doesn’t wish to address the court. She also has indicated to me today, that she has forgiven the defendant and asked me to relay that to you.

“She said in a written statement to the court that Mr. Coen would not be facing the court had he followed the law, and I think that is the key to the case. I’m troubled by that,” said Furbee.

He then said he was also troubled that when Coen was approached he gave some alternative senerio as to what happened and “I don’t understand that part of it your Honor.” Furbee then said the state recommends the court impose the one to five year sentence on the felony and six months jail on the driving revoked and order them to run consecutive.

Coen, then spoke again telling the court he would do anything to stay with his family and he said he would like to ask the court to think about that for a second, what would any of you have done in that situation, what would any of you do to stay with your family? ” I’d like you all to dwell on that for a while.”

Judge Hummel told Coen his remarks to the court were arrogant and immature. He said he was in agreement with Mr. Furbee, if you would have stopped there was not a thing you could have done, but you didn’t know that and what if that young man would have had an opportunity to live and you didn’t stop.

“You took away his ability to breathe life,” Hummel said to Coen. “He wasn’t even man enough to say I did it, and the fact is you shouldn’t even have been driving. If you would have obeyed the law you wouldn’t be here.

He said, “I had thought about running these matters concurrently until your last statement.”

Hummel then said with all the facts and circumstances shown including your arrogance, you shall be remanded to the custody of the Division of Corrections for a period of not less than one nor more than five years, for the felony offense of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, consecutive to six months in jail for driving on a license revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol first offense. You are remanded immediately.