Man gets 30 days in jail after guilty plea in driving death

Tuesday June 5, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A Great Barrington man whose speeding led to the car crash in which his girlfriend died was sentenced to 30 days in jail and probation on Monday.

Kevin Blanco, 20, broke down in tears during his Central Berkshire District Court appearance at which he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide. Blanco told Judge Fredric D. Rutberg that he wishes he could go back to March 9, 2010, and change places with Stacy Sullivan, his 20-year-old girlfriend.

"I'm sorry," Blanco said in court.

According to police and prosecutors, Blanco was speeding on Home Road in Sheffield, when he lost control of the 2007 Ford Taurus he was driving and hit a tree.

Blanco reached speeds of nearly 100 mph before the accident and hit the tree going just over 60, according to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 35 mph, Parsons said.

Sullivan, a Mount Everett Regional High School senior from Ashley Falls, died at the scene. She was sitting in the rear passenger seat and had been wearing her seat belt.

Two other passengers suffered minor injuries, while Blanco was unhurt, according to a police report.

"This was a completely avoidable situation," said Parsons. "It was a catastrophic choice on [Blanco's] part. His actions have completely changed the lives of the Sullivan family forever."

The DA's office asked for a one-year jail sentence with six months to be served and the rest of the time suspended.

Blanco's attorney, Leonard H. Cohen, told the court that no matter what sentence his client was given, it wouldn't measure up to the knowledge that he was responsible for Sullivan's death.

"It's a burden he will carry for the rest of his life," Cohen said.

According to Cohen, his client has no prior criminal record and no drugs or alcohol were involved. Cohen asked that Blanco be given a three-month suspended sentence with a year of probation.

Cohen read a letter Sullivan's mother sent to Blanco shortly after the crash. In it, the mother told Blanco to "choose life. ... [Stacy Sullivan] loved you. Remember that always. She will live forever as long as you remember that, even in your darkest hour."

Several family members and two of Blanco's high school teachers from a private school in Connecticut spoke on his behalf.

"He's not a monster. He's not a bad person," the defendant's father, Edward Blanco, tearfully told the court. "He made a stupid, teenage choice. ... He's deeply sorry for what happened."

Before sentencing Blanco, Rutberg told him that a message had to be sent and that his speeding that night was a "willful action."

Blanco was given a two-year jail sentence with 30 days to be served and the rest of the time suspended while he spends 11 months on probation. He was also ordered to perform 50 hours of community service by speaking to other young people about "how your actions can affect your whole life."

The Sullivan family did not attend the hearing. Parsons said they were doing "the best they can to move on and forgive."

The case was set to go to trial today in the Jury of Six session of Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield.

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