Monday | December 11, 2017
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Family of crash victim decries defendant’s sentence

KAILUA-KONA — A woman involved in a fatal crash that killed two people in 2015 was handed a sentence of up to five years in prison Wednesday, but family members of one of the victims said they were frustrated by a plea agreement that reduced the charges in the case.

The defendant, Rebecca Vetter, will receive credit for time served — about six months — toward her sentence and will have to pay restitution. Her attorney declined to comment.

Vetter was indicted earlier this year on two counts of first-degree negligent homicide in April in connection with a collision that killed Rick Dupont and Sean Henshaw.

According to the Hawaii Police Department, on May 9, 2015, Vetter was traveling southbound on Queen Kaahumanu Highway when she crossed the center line about 7:30 p.m.

The woman’s car reportedly sideswiped a northbound vehicle before striking a motorcycle, also headed north, head on, police said.

Dupont, the motorcycle’s operator, and his passenger, later identified as Henshaw, were thrown from the motorcycle on impact.

Both were later pronounced dead at Kona Community Hospital.

On May 10, police announced they arrested Vetter on suspicion of negligent homicide but released her pending further investigation.

In April 2017, the indictment was filed in the case. The document alleged for each count that Vetter was under the influence of a drug that impaired her ability to drive. The delay in the filed charges was attributed to follow-up inquiries from prosecutors and requests for further interviews.

In August, Vetter entered a guilty plea to two counts of second-degree negligent homicide. She also pleaded guilty to unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, an allegation stemming from a separate case.

Dupont’s family criticized the handling of the case, specifically the plea agreement and impact of a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that said defendants can’t be coerced into submitting to blood or breath tests to detect drugs or alcohol.

An allegation of being under the influence is among what distinguishes first-degree negligent homicide, a Class B felony, from second-degree negligent homicide, a Class C felony.

Rick Dupont’s daughter, Jacqueline Dupont, said they were told blood tests wouldn’t be admissible in court, raising a concern about the case moving forward at all.

“It could’ve just been thrown out,” she said.

But Jacqueline Dupont said tests for drugs and alcohol are important for law enforcement to determine the facts of a case.

“That’s part of the investigation,” she said.

And for the charges to be reduced, she said, “I think, is erroneous.”

“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “And I know we’re not the only family going through this.”

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray said they don’t know exactly how Vetter’s case would have played out with that court ruling in place.

In a statement to the court, Rick Dupont’s father, George Dupont, said the crash “has affected six generations of this family.”

“My eldest granddaughter was expecting at the time,” he said, “and now my two great-grandsons will not have the opportunity to get to know and love their grandfather.”

And it’s not any easier for a family coping with the loss.

“There’s nothing you can do; it’s always gonna be there,” said Keikilani Dupont, daughter of Rick Dupont.

“We’re always not gonna have a dad,” added Jacqueline Dupont. “My grandpa’s always not gonna have his son.”

Email Cameron Miculka email cmiculka@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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