Gerald Childs of Sacramento, Calif. was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail for motor vehicle homicide in a fatal I-80 wreck in April.
Childs, 63, pled no contest to the charge in Lincoln County Court on Jan. 17.
The crash occurred on April 10. Childs was driving a westbound semi-truck that crossed the median and hit an eastbound pickup driven by Steven Freeman of Nicholasville, Ky.
Childs’ truck rolled onto its side after the crash. Freeman, 46, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash happened two miles east of Sutherland.
Childs was scheduled to appear Tuesday at 9 a.m. before Judge Edward Steenburg, but he did not show up.
Defense Attorney Blaine Gillett said his client was delayed because a Greyhound bus broke down in Denver, but it would arrive in the afternoon.
Deputy County Attorney Kortnei Hoeft asked for a warrant for Freeman’s arrest for failure to appear.
“He never fully cooperated with the pre-sentence investigation,” Hoeft said. “The victim’s fiancée traveled all the way here from Kentucky to attend and she has a flight out this afternoon.”
Gillett asked the court to give Childs the chance to arrive in the afternoon.
“If you issue a warrant, it will force them to take him off the bus and put him in jail, delaying this further,” he told Steenburg.
The fiancée, Dottie Freeman, said she had to be at the airport no later than 3:30 p.m. to catch her flight home. Steenburg agreed to hold the warrant until 3 p.m.
Fortunately, the bus arrived and the sentencing was held in early afternoon.
Gillett told the court that it is a tough situation.
“I can’t imagine the pain and the suffering of the victim’s family,” he said, and noted that things have changed for the worse in his client’s life too.
“A year ago, he was self-sufficient, but now he can’t support his family, will never drive a truck again and is homeless and destitute,” Gillett said.
He said Childs talked to probation officers during the pre-sentence investigation, providing some documents and pictures, but did not get things done in a timely matter. Nevertheless, he should receive some credit for accepting responsibility.
“He pled straight-up to the charge,” Gillett said, which saved the time and expense of a trial, and Childs will have to live with what happened for the rest of his life.
Childs apologized to the court and said “I have beat myself up over this and I will accept the consequences for my actions.”
Steenburg said motor vehicle homicide is always a misdemeanor unless there are aggravating circumstances, such as criminal intent or alcohol.
He said probation would not be a good option since Childs lives in California, and regardless of the sentence, it won’t return Freeman to his loved ones.
Steenburg said a tragedy with loss of life demands some accountability, and sentenced Childs to the maximum, 90 days.