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Bunker Hill man sentenced to up to 10 years in fatal DUI crash

August 24, 2009

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The punishment Ricky Luther Corbin received Monday for causing the death of Dawnelle Renee Hutzler never will add up to the "life sentence" he gave her family, Hutzler's mother said Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

"You took (the mother of an) 8-year-old little (boy) who has so many questions that we can't answer," Connie Wise said before Corbin, 25, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., was sentenced by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes to as much as 10 years in prison for driving under the influence of alcohol.

"You left another young woman with a life of pain and who can probably never be fully able to care for her 3-year-old daughter," Wise said of injuries to her other daughter, Sarah Hutzler, in the March 2008 accident.

As part of a binding plea agreement, Corbin faces four to 10 years in prison and must pay $2,000 in fines and $1,080 in restitution for Hutzler's funeral expenses.

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Corbin entered guilty pleas last month to DUI causing death and three counts of DUI causing injury, admitting he caused the accident, which police said happened March 9, 2008, about 3:15 a.m. in the 1500 block of Hatchery Road.

Dawnelle Hutzler, 27, of Inwood, W.Va., was found dead at the accident scene. Sarah Hutzler sustained head, elbow and leg injuries, and her mother told the court Monday she never will fully recover from brain damage.

The other passengers in the Dodge Durango with Corbin were identified in a police complaint as Erick W. Arthur and Kevin W. Vanmetre. Wise said after Monday's hearing Corbin was an acquaintance of her daughters and was giving them a ride home after karaoke at a bar.

Corbin has been at Eastern Regional Jail since Oct. 31, 2008, after being arrested on an unrelated battery charge. He did not say anything in court Monday when Wilkes asked if he wish to address the court before sentencing.

LeAnn Gates said in court Monday while her sisters made the wrong decision to ride with Corbin after he had been drinking, it ultimately was his decision that led to their injuries and death.

"You may consider yourself a victim, but in my eyes, you are a liar and a killer," Gates said to Corbin.

Gates added "true justice" for her sister's death will be when Corbin dies and walks "through the gates of hell."

Wilkes told Corbin his incarceration would give him time to reflect and the opportunity to turn his life around after a mounting history of run-ins with the law.

"If there's anything good that come out of this, you can let others know about the effects of alcohol," Wilkes said.

In an interview, Gates said the family was relieved Corbin took responsibility for the accident and avoided a trial, but it did not lessen the loss, especially for her nephew.

"His favorite color (now) is black because that's what color her hair was," Gates said.

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