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Thu, March 21

'Coward' sentenced to prison for Kingman DUI death

Delbert Brechler

Delbert Brechler

KINGMAN - Delbert Brechler wanted to be sentenced to house arrest for driving drunk and killing a teenager in a wreck he caused last summer.

He was given nearly three decades in the big house instead.

Brechler, 46, was driving with nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he rear-ended Cody Raymond, 17, hitting his truck with enough force that it destroyed the transaxle. The truck traveled about 700 feet before it rolled over following the collision on Route 66 near John L Avenue.

Raymond suffered mortal injuries and his parents watched him die at Kingman Regional Medical Center a few hours after the crash.

Neither Brechler, who was driving alone, nor Raymond's passenger Jesse Selder, now 19, were seriously injured.

Brechler was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault and three counts of felony DUI. He bailed out of the Mohave County jail on July 26, 2013.

He attended all of his hearings before his trial began in June, but then he failed to show up at the most important one of all. He was tried in absentia and found guilty on all counts. He was captured in Las Vegas about a week later and returned to Kingman.

Judge Rick Williams said he couldn't consider Brechler's absence at his trial as far as sentencing him is concerned. "It just makes you a coward," said Williams.

Brechler's excuse for not attending his trail was that three young men with firearms came to his home and threatened to kill him. But in a note to his family, Brechler said he had gone fishing and was unable to get back to Kingman in time.

The judge and Raymond's family both touched on Brechler's seeming lack of remorse.

Chuck Waalkens, Raymond's stepdad, told the court as much at Monday's sentencing hearing.

"We will forever see (Cody) laying on a bloody hospital bed," he said. "We will forever hear the doctor tell the nurse to stop (CPR), saying his injuries were too massive."

Waalkens and his wife Shauna scoffed at Delbert's plea for leniency.

"Delbert says he has a lot to offer the community," said Chuck Waalkens. "For 46 years he gave nothing to the community and now he wants leniency."

Shauna Waalkens had a particularly sad story to tell. She said her mother died of cancer less than two weeks after Raymond was killed.

She said the family has been unable to grieve for the woman or even hold a memorial service because of the trauma caused by her son's death.

"The defendant is asking for house arrest," she said, "because he's the only male to pass on the family name. Oh, boo hoo."

Selder asked Williams to sentence Brechler to the maximum term he could receive.

While nobody claims Brechler intended to cause a fatal accident, both Brechler and his father seem to look elsewhere for blame.

Brechler's father, also named Delbert, told the court the accident never would have occurred if "that lady friend of his didn't (make him leave) her home."

The elder Brechler said his son and the woman were arguing when she told him to leave.

"She should have known better than to kick him out of her house," he said. The elder Brechler said his son was "real gentle, like a big teddy bear."

Williams took issue with the older man's comments, as well as statements Brechler made in writing.

The accident occurred, he said, because Brechler is an alcoholic who made a decision to drive when he was heavily intoxicated. Test results showed his blood alcohol content was 0.208 percent.

"Your comments are a complete slap in the face to the victims," said Williams to the elder Brechler.

He told the younger Brechler he didn't believe he was threatened before his trial. The judge let him know he didn't appreciate Brechler's written statement in which, according to Williams, he essentially said he was "so used to driving drunk" that "someone else must have caused the accident."

Brechler was sentenced to 60 days in jail on the DUI charges, and was given 60 days credit for time served.

He was given 10 years for the aggravated assault of Selder and 18 years for killing Raymond. He must serve one sentence before he starts serving the second sentence.

Had he accepted responsibility for the crime and signed a plea agreement stating as much, prosecutor Rod Albright would have settled for a 15-year term.

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