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Man gets 1 to 10 years in DUI death

May 26, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Darlene Sine did not have to say anything in Berkeley County Circuit Court on Tuesday to illustrate the sorrow she has felt since her son died April 24, 2007.

The white T-shirt she wore -- screened with a color image of her 18-year-old son, Steven R. Warner, on the front -- said it all on the back: "Son, no one will ever know how much I love and miss you."

Warner died in a head-on dirt-bike collision on Trinity Church Road southwest of Martinsburg.

The driver of the other bike, William Wayne "Billy" DeHaven Jr., survived, but on Tuesday morning was ordered to serve a one- to 10-year penitentiary sentence after entering a guilty plea in March to driving under the influence causing death.

DeHaven, 27, of Gerrardstown, W.Va., was returned to Eastern Regional Jail and will serve at least one year behind bars before a parole board will decide if he will receive any additional jail time, according to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely.

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Shackled and dressed in jail orange in court on Tuesday, DeHaven did not offer condolences or accept responsibility for Warner's death to Sine and other members of the victim's family, who also wore T-shirts bearing Warner's image.

Yet, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes said a probation officer's report filed with the court indicates DeHaven expressed remorse in an interview and blamed himself for Warner's death.

DeHaven's criminal history includes motor-vehicle infractions and a previous DUI charge, according to Wilkes.

Wilkes suggested the apparent lack of harsh penalties for DeHaven's previous brushes with the law appeared to have led to Tuesday's sentencing.

In a letter read in court Tuesday by Games-Neely, Sine said she has been unable to sleep since her son's death, and cries at night and in visits to her son's grave.

In another letter read by Games-Neely, the victim's stepfather, James Sine Sr., said Warner was more like a son to him, recalling times they hunted together and how they were rebuilding a 1965 Ford Mustang.

Sine acknowledged his stepson was "no angel," but said he didn't deserve to die, either.

In addition to the felony charge, DeHaven was indicted in October 2008 on misdemeanor counts of DUI resulting in injury and driving while revoked for DUI.

The misdemeanor counts were dismissed because the one-year statute of limitations for prosecuting the charges had passed by the time the case was bound over from magistrate court in September, Games-Neely has said.

DeHaven was drinking heavily before the head-on collision, police have said. Warner died from his injuries en route to the hospital, police said.

Records obtained by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department from Winchester (Va.) Medical Center after the accident revealed that DeHaven's blood-alcohol level was .131, which is higher than the state limit of .08, police had said.

DeHaven has been incarcerated since October 2008, when he tested positive for marijuana, his attorney said Tuesday.

A sister of DeHaven's told the court on Tuesday that the family felt "really sorry" for Warner's family, but also shared how DeHaven's incarceration has been a trial for the man's two young children and fiancée.

"We pray for him every day," DeHaven's sibling said. "Sending him away for 10 years ... is not the answer."

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