The Rockville man who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars in connection with a car crash that killed three of his friends had his sentence reduced Friday.
A judge reduced the sentence imposed on Kevin Coffay, who had pleaded guilty to three counts of manslaughter after the crash that killed three Magruder High School students on May 15.
“Not a day has gone by where I am not overwhelmed by the emotions,” Coffay said during the hearing. “The pain, the guilt, the shame… I ask God why them and not me.”
Coffay was re-sentenced to 15 years behind bars but the judge suspended seven of those years. That means Coffay was sentenced Friday to eight years behind bars.
In making its decision, the three-judge panel said that Coffay shouldn’t pay for the larger cultural problem of drunk driving; that the state didn’t give Coffay credit for pleading guilty; that the intial sentencing judge went outside the sentencing guidelines and that the victims had voluntarily gotten into the vehicle with Coffay.
Family members of the victims were livid at the decision.
“The reduction of this sentence means our children’s lives mean nothing,” said one.
The crash happened when Coffay's car left Olney-Laytonsville Road just after 3 a.m. and hit a tree. Authorities say that Coffay then fled from the scene. He was found near his home in Rockville about three hours later with a strong odor of alcohol, police say.
Spencer Datt, 18, Haeley McGuire, 18, and John Hoover, 20, were all killed in the crash. Charles Anthony Nardella, 19, suffered serious injuries.
Under Maryland law, a defendant can argue for a lighter sentence without going to an appeals court.
The courtroom Friday was packed. Six witnesses testified for the defense and six testified for the victims.
Mary Ellen Coffay, Coffay’s sister, said her brother hates himself. She also said prison doesn’t rehabilitate people.
“Please don’t lock him in a cage for 20 years,” she said.
His mother said that she understood that there must be punishment but that it wasn't an intentional crime.