Kelly Tracy was 16 years old when Manuel Contreras-Galdean got behind the wheel of a car at 6:30 in the morning with a blood-alcohol level over twice the legal limit.
He murdered an amazingly talented, bright and caring young lady. He brought unimaginable pain and suffering to hundreds of Kelly’s friends. Very few can even remotely comprehend the suffering he inflicted on Kelly’s family.
Kelly was a member of my daughter’s High School marching band. My wife and I were volunteers with the band the morning Kelly was killed and we were present in the room when her band mates were informed of her tragic death.
Almost a year later I still can’t think of that day without crying.
Yesterday the Arizona Republic reported that Contreras-Galdean pleaded guilty to one count each of manslaughter and aggravated assault for his actions that day. A Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman said he will face a 10½ year prison sentence for each count.
And he will serve those sentences concurrently.
In other words, he serves his two sentences together, as opposed to consecutively (or “back-to-back”) as had been previously discussed.
In other words, Manuel Contreras-Galdean will spend only 10½ years in prison for killing Kelly and hurting her brother.
For killing a 16 year old. A completely preventable tragedy. He chose to get drunk that morning. He knew the consequences (this was his third or fourth arrest for DUI). He gambled with Kelly’s life and she lost.
And he gets 10½ years.
Assuming he serves the full sentence, he’ll walk out of prison when he’s 42 years old. On that date, Kelly would have been 26. Twenty-six.
He will have another 40 or so years of freedom to enjoy when he gets out.
Kelly’s friends and family will only have memories. And thoughts of what could have been. And they’ll go through agony every November 15th, the anniversary of Kelly’s senseless and tragic death.
10½ years? That’s the value our society places on a human life?
In a post I wrote the day after Kelly died I said, “If he gets out of prison before he dies then a travesty of justice will have been served. I know I should be able to forgive him, but I can not. I’ll leave that to a higher and greater power.”
Well, a travesty of justice has been served. This “man” should rot in prison.
But he’ll be out in 10½ years.
Assuming of course he doesn’t get early release or time credited for “good behavior”.
It makes me physically ill.
Rest in peace Kelly. You accomplished more in your short life than the animal that killed you could ever dream of doing. Your smile will shine on forever.