Ty Fuller was speeding down Wright Bliss Road KPN in May 2017 when he rear-ended a golf cart being driven by Gary Moody.
Moody, 65, died at the scene. Moody’s passenger was injured and taken to the hospital.
On Friday, Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck sentenced the 50-year-old Fuller to nine years, six months in prison for vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.
Investigators estimate that at the time of the incident Fuller was driving 70-80 mph. The speed limit was 35 mph.
Fuller had a blood-alcohol content of .086 at the time, records say. The legal limit in Washington is .08.
After hitting the golf cart, Fuller drove into oncoming traffic in an attempt to get away, sideswiping a Chevrolet Impala in the process. Witnesses said he then fled the scene to his partner’s house nearby. He was arrested there.
Fuller pleaded guilty in January.
On Friday, deputy prosecutor Neil Horibe recommended a sentence of 114 months.
According to Horibe, Fuller has two prior convictions for driving under the influence: one in 2003 and another in 2005. Fuller previously sought treatment for alcohol dependency.
“You have a man who is absolutely on notice that his behavior needs to change,” Horibe told van Doorninck. He added that Fuller had been warned with “every resource or cautionary tale” about what he can do to change and what can happen if he drives while intoxicated.
Fuller’s attorney, Casey Arbenz, sought a sentence of five years, which was below the standard range of 86 to 114 months.
Arbenz said Moody and his passenger were assuming some risk by driving the golf cart — an unlicensed vehicle — which “created a dangerous hazard on the road and likely contributed to the collision,” court records say.
In court, Arbenz pointed to more than 30 letters of support from friends, families and co-workers submitted to the court on behalf of Fuller. He worked as a grocer for 25 years — the last 16 of which as the night manager — to provide for his children.
“He was a rock for all of these folks,” Arbenz said, gesturing toward the courtroom. “He’s a good person. He’s not a criminal.”
Judge van Doorninck said she sentenced Fuller to the top-end of that range because of his two prior DUIs, his decision to flee the scene and the injuries sustained by the passenger of the golf cart.
“These are always really difficult cases because a whole group of people have lost a loved one, and a whole other group of people loses a loved one. Except he (Fuller) is still alive,” van Doorninck said.
The courtroom was crowded with family members of both Moody and Fuller, and many on from both families were in tears throughout the hearing.
Moody’s ex-wife Julie Elmore read a statement before Fuller was sentenced.
“Gary was much loved,” Elmore said before turning her attention to Fuller. “It is true that Gary had his own struggles with drugs and alcohol, and because of that many people have an understanding or compassion for you and what you have done. Some say that Gary would forgive. And this may be true. But I am not one to forgive you for what you have taken away from my family.”
Fuller read a statement of his own. In it, he apologized to his family and friends, as well as those of Moody.
“It was my careless, selfish acts that inflicted pain and sorrow. If I could bring back Mr. Moody’s life by taking my own, I would not hesitate because it’s the right thing to do,” Fuller said through tears. “I have and will spend the rest of my life with overwhelming and relentless guilt. I am truly sorry for my horrible actions, and, no matter how much time I receive here today, your honor, no one will be harder on me than me.”