Claremore Daily Progress

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April 21, 2014

Judge suspends 9 years of Hannah’s 20 year manslaughter sentence



Rogers County District Judge Dwayne Steidley decreased the sentence Monday of a man responsible for the death of a young father and his infant son in a 2011 drunk driving crash.
Judge Steidley suspended nine years of Keaton Leon Hannah’s 20-year sentence for manslaughter and ordered him to visit each high school in Rogers County upon his release during his probationary period.
The reduction will still require Hannah to serve nine more years in prison.
The judicial review hearing initially set last year was set to convene at 9:30 a.m., but began approximately an hour later after Judge Steidley and counsel met in chambers.
Hannah, 21, was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter in 2012,  receiving a 20-year sentence with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Hannah’s convictions stem from his driving while intoxicated on the morning of June 17, 2011, striking a vehicle near QuikTrip in Verdigris, and while attempting to flee the scene, hitting another vehicle head-on.
The passengers of the vehicle were Eric and Ginger Watkins and their 8-month-old son, Bryor.
Eric and Bryor died as a result of the accident.
Ginger Watkins spoke to the court about the events. 
“The emotional impact is so unreal, it is hard to put into words,” Ginger said. “I am reminded every morning that they are gone.”
The widow made a tearful plea to the court.
“My life style has changed dramatically, In my opinion, it is too soon to let let him out,” she said. “It would hurt my family.”
“If we release him, what kind of message are we sending, you can drink and drive and only serve a few years in prison,” Ginger said.
Hannah was also emotional during the hearing, as well as his family.
Judge Steidley said it was a difficult decision and considering Hannah’s age at the time of the accident.
Hannah had only been 18 for a few months at the time of the accident and would have otherwise been charged as a youthful offender, according to Steidley.
His blood alcohol level —at the time of the accident — was 2.6 and the state prosecutor’s recommended Hannah serve the full sentence.
Hannah’s attorney, Jack Gordon Jr., asked the court to give the young man the opportunity to do something good, stating he is very remorseful.

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