DUI offender sentenced, victim's family tries to change law

Knoxville DUI offender sentenced after deadly crash, now victim's family works to change law

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Five time convicted DUI offender Scott Spangler accepted a plea deal Thursday, pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide. Five time convicted DUI offender Scott Spangler accepted a plea deal Thursday, pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide.
By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Five time convicted DUI offender Scott Spangler accepted a plea deal Thursday, pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide. 

In the deal, he was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.  By law he is eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of his sentence. In less than six years he will be in front of a parole board trying to get out of jail.

Previous story: 5 time DUI offender accused in deadly Knoxville crash may get plea deal with parole eligibility after 6 years

The family members of victim Ben Woodruff say they fear Spangler may get out of jail in six years and get behind the wheel intoxicated again.  They have been in touch with lawmakers asking for a bill to be introduced that will give the judge more discretion to decide on a case by case basis the proper length of time an inmate should serve before being eligible for parole.

Woodruff's attorney Darren Berg says a law makers plan to introduce a bill addressing the issue of parole eligibility standards in the next legislative session.

In court the Woodruff family held on to each other for support something they'll have to do again in less than six years when Spangler is up for parole.

“Life will never be anywhere near normal and it will start back over again for us six years we will keep reliving this,” said Ben Woodruff’s widow Beth Woodruff.

Spangler was convicted of five DUI's before causing this crash that left six people injured and killed husband and father of two ben woodruff.  His widow Beth misses him every day.

“On a quiet Friday night I think i would have been with ben he was just super special,” said Woodruff.

Crack cocaine and xanax was found in Spangler’s system.  He pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide.  The plea deal gave him 20 years.  But according to law with five DUI convictions he is a range one standard offender and will be eligible for parole in less than six years.

Woodruff's attorney Darren Berg says the family believes the law should force Spangler to serve more time before being eligible for parole.

“This gentleman has demonstrated a clear deliberate indifference to human life and if you're going to let him out in six years it’s going to happen again,” said Woodruff.

Woodruff's family is now working with law makers to draft a bill so repeat DUI offenders convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide may have to serve more than 30 percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole.  In the bill the judge would have the discretion to impose higher release eligibility dates.

“It gives the judge the opportunity to say it's a 20 year sentence and you have to serve a majority of that before we are even going to discuss letting you out,” said Woodruff.

Beth Woodruff's attorney Darren Berg says Spangler's conduct shows a deliberate indifference to human life and the family believes the parole eligibility length should be similar to second degree murder where a defendant serves 80 percent of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

Six people were injured in the crash.  Many lives were forever changed.

Woodruff's seven year old son is still in rehab in hopes of being able to walk again.

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