Man gets 7 years for second DUI
December 12, 2006
A Gardnerville resident who has already served a prison term for a fatal traffic accident in Utah was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in Nevada State Prison on a felony driving under the influence conviction.
Erik Steenwyk was arrested in October after he hit a parked vehicle and left the scene of the accident. His blood-alcohol content tested at .22, nearly three times the legal limit of .08 in Nevada.
A search of his record revealed a conviction in 2004 in Iron County, Utah, for a 2003 automobile homicide. He also was accused of leaving the scene of that accident.
Steenwyk was sentenced to five years in prison and served several months before he was placed on probation in Utah.
Judge Dave Gamble said he was puzzled by Steenwyk’s account of the incident.
“I would expect a person might feel a little bit bad about having killed that person, but Mr. Steenwyk doesn’t even mention it. In fact, he asks me to ignore it and sentence him as if this were just his second DUI,” Gamble said.
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In the Utah accident, lawyer Tod Young said Steenwyk was under the influence of prescribed medication and had hoped the conviction would not be used to enhance his Nevada arrest.
The enhancement elevates the crime to a category B felony with mandatory prison.
“I am sorry for what I did. I accept the responsibility,” he said.
“You were magnanimous to say, ‘I realize and admit I have a problem with alcohol,'” Gamble said. “That’s pretty much a no-brainer.”
Gamble told him to think about what he’s going to do when he gets out of prison.
Steenwyk must serve a minimum of two years before he is eligible for parole. He also faces parole revocation for the 2003 accident in Utah.
n A 40-year-old Gardnerville woman was reinstated to drug court and warned it was her last chance before she would be sent to prison.
Ramona Madore told District Judge Dave Gamble that the time she spent in Douglas County Jail had a beneficial impact.
“I know it’s hard to believe, but by the grace of God, being put in jail, I am making drastic changes. I realize I was the biggest manipulator I ever met,” she said.
She pleaded guilty to uttering a forged instrument, admitting she wrote $1,200 in bogus checks from her employer. She has agreed to repay the loss at $100 a month.
Gamble sentenced her to 34 months in prison, suspended for three years provided she successfully complete Western Nevada Regional Drug Court.
“I think you’ve got a shot here,” Gamble said.
He also encouraged her to take to heart a letter written by her daughter about the impact of Madore’s drug use.
“Re-read your daughter’s letter every day,” he said. “Tack it to the inside of your forehead. With your next probation violation, you are going to prison.”
n A Gardnerville man whose blood-alcohol content ranged from three to six times more than the legal limit pleaded guilty Monday to felony driving under the influence.
District Judge Michael Gibbons set sentencing for Jan. 22 for Russell Gruber, 37.
Gruber was arrested Dec. 2 after his vehicle struck a car in the parking lot of Coyote Bar and Grill. He was so intoxicated that deputies said he slipped into unconsciousness as they attempted to move him to a patrol car.
When he was tested at an urgent care center, his alcohol content was .45. At the jail, he tested at .24. The legal limit for driving in Nevada is .08.
Gibbons released Gruber on his own recognizance on the condition that he abide by house arrest restrictions which include no drugs or alcohol. Gibbons said he could leave his parents’ home for work or substance abuse treatment.
He encouraged Gruber to undergo in-patient treatment prior to his sentencing.
“From the get-go Mr. Gruber knew he messed up,” said lawyer Derrick Lopez. “He wanted to take responsibility.”
Nevada law mandates prison for a third driving under the influence conviction within seven years. Gruber had prior convictions in February 2004 and February 2001.
n District Judge Dave Gamble delayed sending a 16-year-old Gardnerville runaway to Aurora Pines for six weeks to determine how well she does following rules at home.
“I don’t send girls to Aurora Pines as punishment,” Gamble told Ashley Eaken. “I send them there to protect them.”
Eaken was missing for two weeks and picked up with another juvenile in Sacramento in November. Gamble said she had run away nine times.
“The last time you ran away, you scared the hell out of all of us, and none of us have forgotten that,” Gamble said.
At a hearing last week, she admitted using methamphetamine and cocaine. Gamble released her from detention and told her she was to follow the rules of her mother and her juvenile probation officer.
“I am committing you to Aurora Pines, but this is your chance to get out of that. Show me you don’t need to go there.”
Eaken promised Gamble she would not run away, and that she would go to her mother, her attorney or her probation officer if she were having problems.
He set a review hearing for Jan. 23.