A judge has told an Oklahoma teenager, who pleaded guilty in the traffic death of another teen, to attend church for 10 years to avoid prison. His defense attorney is not challenging the sentence.
"My client goes to church every Sunday," Tulsa World quoted attorney Donn Baker as saying of the 17- year-old defendant, Tyler Alred. "That isn't going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him."
District Judge Mike Norman of Muskogee County, Okla., this week determined the conditions to accompany the deferred sentence of Alred, who was charged with youthful offender to manslaughter in the death of his passenger, 16-year-old John Luke Dum of Muskogee.
In addition to church attendance, Norman also asked the teenager to wear an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption; attend victim-impact panels and speak at events about the consequences of drinking and driving; graduate from high school and welding school; attend counseling; and undergo drug and alcohol assessments.
Alred, a high school and welding school student, admitted to drinking when he crashed his Chevrolet pickup into a tree, killing Dum on Dec. 3. He pleaded guilty in August.
Baker was quoted as saying that Alred "started crying, and (Dum's) father got up and went over to him and they hugged, and both of them cried wrenching tears for several minutes."
"He (Alred) understands the gravity and the hurt and wishes he could take it back," Baker said. "This is something he'll have to live with the rest of his life. He told (Dum's) family (that) every day and every hour he regretted his decision to drink and drive."
Carnagey added that one of Dum's sisters told the judge that there was no point in ruining two lives by sending Alred to prison.
The District Attorney's Office will monitor Alred's church attendance. Assistant District Attorney Jim Carnagey said this is not for the first time that the judge has required church attendance with defendants.
However, Randall Coyne, professor of law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, was quoted as saying that the church requirement could be challenged as it potentially violates the constitution. He said defense attorneys have successfully challenged orders that their clients attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings because of AA's spiritual component.