WILKES-BARRE — An attorney for a man sentenced last week to 6 1/2 to 25 years in prison on charges stemming from a crash that left two people dead said in court papers filed Wednesday that a county judge’s sentencing constituted double jeopardy.
John Pike asked that Walter Raven’s sentence on two counts of accident involving death or personal injury, one count each of habitual offenders, tampering with evidence, driving with a suspended license and careless driving be reduced.
Prosecutors say Raven, 60, of Jenkins Township, drove a Buick into the path of a motorcycle driven by Donnie Pizano, 38, on state Route 315 in Pittston Township on Sept. 2. Pizano and a passenger on the motorcycle, Robin Walsh, 39, both of Plains Township, were killed in the crash.
Pike said in a request to reduce Raven’s sentence that Judge Michael Vough violated Raven’s constitutional right against double jeopardy when he was sentenced consecutively on the two charges of accident involving death or personal injury.
The two charges should have been merged together into one for sentencing purposes, the attorney said, and the judge erred in sentencing Raven on both the lesser and greater charges.
Pike noted he also presented evidence at Raven’s sentencing that should have called for a lesser sentence: His client served as a confidential informant on a number of drug-related cases for 10 years, he suffered injury and “permanent disfigurement” as a result of his assistance as an informant and he has a lengthy medical history.
Raven pleaded guilty to the charges in May, Pike said, accepting responsibility for his actions.
“The court erred in sentencing (Raven) to the maximum … sentence for each and every county and running each and every count consecutive to the other,” Pike wrote. “The court did not take into consideration (Raven’s) remorsefulness, acceptance of responsibility, prior background in assisting law enforcement, as well as the submission of two letters of apology to the victim’s families.”
For those reasons, Pike wrote, Raven’s sentence should be vacated and modified or reduced in some way.