Dayton woman's prison sentence stands

A prison sentence imposed on a Dayton woman who injured a man in a car accident will stand, a judge ruled this week.

Lyon County District Judge David A. Huff said Tuesday that he stands by the sentence he imposed in February against 39-year-old Debbie Crank. Crank pleaded guilty in February to a charge of causing an accident with bodily harm.

At the sentencing, Crank and her family expected Huff to follow the probationary sentence recommended by the Department of Parole and Probation and the Lyon County District Attorney's Office. Instead, he opted to give her one to three years imprisonment. The maximum possible sentence was six years.

Debbie's husband, Dennis, and three children, Jason, 11, Alanna, 12, and Nick Skaggs, 20, said their mother pleaded guilty just to get the trial behind the family. They believe the accident happened as a result of Debbie blacking out while she was behind the wheel.

"I have said all along that this was unjust," Dennis said. "Yes, she was in an accident and, yes, she caused bodily harm. But the judge thinks that she did it intentionally and that is not the case."

Now the only option available to Crank is an appeal that either cites legal misrepresentation by her court-appointed lawyer, or evidence that Crank didn't understand the legal proceeding.

Such an appeal could take enough time for Crank to serve out her sentence, and even keep her imprisoned when she is eligible for parole if the parole board opts to wait for a court decision.

"The wheels of justice roll slowly and we are running out of options," Dennis said. "I didn't feel that the energy that should have been put out by the public defenders office was there. We should have known that this sentence was likely considering the history of the judge."

Huff's decision may have rested on the testimony of Vernon Cannon Jr., the victim. He suffered a four-month hospitalization when he was treated for several broken bones, a ruptured spleen and a collapsed lung. During that time he racked up $400,000 in bills.

Cannon asked for the maximum six-year sentence at Crank's sentencing.

"I don't now how she could not have controlled the situation," Cannon said in an April interview. "According to the witnesses she'd been weaving in and out of traffic."


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