As the Capital Region continues to mourn the two lives lost Saturday and offer support to the survivors, the family of another Saratoga County teen who died this year receives some closure. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on the guilty plea of Gavin Staulters.
MILTON, N.Y. – When Sarah Liedel heard the news of Saturday's fatal accident in Clifton Park, her mind immediately shifted to the evening of July 7th. Early on that Saturday evening, her daughter, Kari, was walking down West Milton Road with a friend when her life was tragically cut short.
"It's different because people deal with grief differently,” Liedel said. “But it's the same feelings of there's something missing and there will always be something missing now and you'll never get it back."
Just 14 and set to enter her sophomore year at Ballston Spa High School, Liedel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Later that month, 22-year-old Gavin Staulters of Rock City Falls was charged with second degree vehicular manslaughter for getting behind the wheel drunk. Almost five months later on Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court.
"Part of me wanted to go to trial and part of me just wanted him to just admit his guilt,” Liedel said Wednesday. “Part of me wanted him to say ‘I'm guilty.’"
When Staulters is sentenced at the end of January, he faces a max penalty of two-and-one-third to seven years in prison.
"When you're driving drunk and you kill someone, a state prison sentence nearing the maximum penalty is appropriate and that's what we got in this case," Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said.
"She didn't get to live a full life, she didn't get to go to prom, she didn't get to have kids, she didn't get to get married,” said Sam Hicka, a friend of Liedel’s who plans to write a victim impact statement before Staulters’ sentencing. “She should've had more."
While no punishment will take back the crime Staulters has now claimed responsibility for or bring back her daughter, Liedel's mother says she'll be grateful to finally put this period behind her.
"You think about the things that you'll miss and the things that you'll never get to see, you'll never get to do, you'll never get to say,” Liedel said. “No one should have to deal with it, it's not natural."
Staulters sentencing is scheduled for the morning of January 30th.