Joshua Cunningham’s friends and the deputy prosecutor who charged him with vehicular homicide said Friday that he is sorry for the drunk driving crash that killed another man on the Purdy Spit.
But as Pierce County Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz sentenced Cunningham to six years, eight months in prison, she told him it was his choices, not his character, that had brought him to court.
“It isn’t a matter of whether someone is a good person or a bad person,” she said. “... It’s what you did on that night and that situation that caused the death of a man.”
Cunningham, 40, pleaded guilty to the vehicular homicide earlier this year. He made a U turn in his SUV as he left a bonfire on the spit near Gig Harbor Sept. 11.
A motorcycle driven by 56-year-old James Jagger then slammed into the SUV. He tried to brake to avoid the crash, but didn’t see the SUV in time. Prosecutors said Cunningham’s lights weren’t on. He had marijuana in his system, and his blood alcohol level was 0.14, above the 0.08 legal limit.
Family members of Jagger, who was from Bremerton, spoke at the sentencing.
“We didn’t have Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, because our heart wasn’t in it,” said his mother, Juanita Jagger. “... It’s just left a big hole in our hearts.”
James Dalton Jagger, who shares his father’s name, told Stolz his dad’s funeral marked the end of his childhood.
“Carelessness is the worst kind of malice,” he said.
Caira Perkins-Krause, a former coworker of Cunningham’s who was at the bonfire, told the court she rushed to help tend to Jagger’s injuries after the crash. In those moments they spoke about his family, “and the motorcycle that he loved,” she said.
She remembers Cunningham crying out in the background: “Dear God, let him be OK.”
Jagger died later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
“His choice was wrong and he knows that,” she said of Cunningham. “We hope the family can find peace and heal together.”
When Cunningham addressed the court, he said repeatedly: “There’s nothing I can ever do to fix what I’ve done.”
Stolz told him living with what happened might be his harshest sentence.
“That in itself may be more punishment than the court can give him,” she said.