One life ended and doeznes changed Aug. 13, 2012, at the crossroads of First St. and Ridge Road in Harvey County
Jesse Stroup, a 28 year old man headed home to see his parents in Stockton, was killed in a car accident. Brian Reed, then a 40 year old Iraq veteran, ran a stop sign while driving drunk.
"I miss Jesse so very much," Tammy Hunter, Stroup's mother, wrote in a letter to the court. "Everyday I think of my son tears are shed. To this day, I can't hold my son cause he was taken from me. All I have is memories, pain, and hurt. It makes me sick some days."
The lives of Stroup's family and Reed met another crossroads Friday — a day which Billi Harr, James Stroup's aunt, simply calls "sentencing day."
For nearly two years the court proceedings have dragged on. Continuance after continuance, and then a plea agreement. In the plea agreement, charges of involuntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide were replaced with aggravated battery charges — to the chagrin of Stroup's family.
"Has justice been served, or not," Harr said in court, and in a letter in the court documents. "It certainly is not what I think is right."
Friday Reed was sentenced. During that sentencing, Judge Joe Dickinson imposed a condition of parol on Reed which forces him to meet the Stroud family at a crossroads — should they choose to meet him there.
In addition to probation, which if violated could result in five years in prison, and 60 days of jail time, Dickinson is requiring Reed to participate in the Offender/Victim Ministries program.
He is required to make himself available to the program. The family is not, but may do so to seek reconciliation if they choose.
Dickinson pointed out that the original vehicular manslaughter charge carried a maximum of 1 year in prison, however, under the plea agreement Reed could serve more than five years if he violates parole.
"Unfortunately, it is terrible no matter what I say today," Dickinson said during sentencing. "Mr. Stroup will not come back to us. Typically, after a case like this, people walk away disappointed."
Reed was sentenced on two counts of aggravated battery. Each carried with them 32 months in prison. Dickinson imposed 36 months of probation. Reed must serve 60 days in jail with credit for time served. In addition to participation in OVM, he must continue alcohol treatment programs he has already started and perform six speaking engagements to DUI impact classes.
Violation of any of the parol conditions could mean serving each 32 month prison term consecutively.
The Jesse Stroup family wanted prison time, and asked for it in letters to the court — and again during the sentencing hearing.
"Brian Reed can still wak, talk eat and see people," Hunter said. "But my son can not do that. I will never have my son back."
At the sentencing Dr. Jarrod Steffan of Wichita testified he had evaluated Reed and recommended treatment in 2012. According to testimony, Reed has undergone treatment and responded well.
"Mr. Reed has done everything he can do at this point to be sure this does not happen again," Dickinson said.