Thursday, October 25, 2001

Drunken driver’s sentence
disappoints victim’s family

By Debra Barayuga

Arlene Miske, if she were alive today, would have showed compassion for the man who caused her death, family members said.

But they are very disappointed that Carl Cornelle Jr. did not get the maximum 10 years in prison for driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and striking Miske's car head-on, killing her, over two years ago.

Cornelle, 43, who was on disability at the time because of a bipolar disorder, pleaded guilty earlier to first-degree negligent homicide for causing Miske's death in April 1999.

Saying no sentence could ever soothe the family's loss and pain, Circuit Judge Gail Nakatani sentenced Cornelle yesterday to five years probation, with one year in prison, followed by a minimum 18-months in a residential program that addresses his substance abuse problems and mental illness, or until he is clinically discharged.

Nakatani also ordered Cornelle to pay $466 restitution to the Miske family, submit to drug and alcohol assessment and undergo treatment at his expense. She also revoked his driver's license for life.

She said she hopes Cornelle, after complying with the courts conditions, will rejoin society not the same person as he was when he enters rehabilitation, but a person who poses no further danger to the community.

Cornelle apologized yesterday to Miske's family members for her death, saying he didn't intend for it to happen. "I know I will never take drugs or alcohol for the rest of my life because of what I done to this person's family."

Jacqueline Barker, one of Miske's six children, said Cornelle's decision to drive while intoxicated and driving head-on into Miske's car was akin to taking a gun and killing her.

The loss of their mother has pierced "holes in their hearts" and that her death was a "darkness so dark" that she and her siblings can't even talk about it after two years. "It's that unspeakable ... it's that painful."

This was the first DUI case prosecuted under the January 1998 law that requires blood or urine to be taken from a motorist involved in a traffic fatality, said Deputy Prosecutor David Sandler.

Cornelle is also the first to test positive for drugs under that law and whose case resulted in a first-degree negligent homicide prosecution.

The sentence ensures Cornelle will not be on the streets for at least 212 years. Any violation of conditions imposed by the court or his probation officer could result in his probation being revoked and the court ordering him to serve the 10-year maximum. While on probation, Cornelle is prohibited from possessing or using any alcohol or drugs. Refusal to submit to random drug testing or failure to provide samples also would be a violation.

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