A Pierce County judge Thursday sentenced a 31-year-old man to three years, five months in prison for causing a wreck that killed a Graham-area teenager last year.
Darrell Andrew Ross pleaded guilty last month to vehicular homicide in the death of Daniel Morse, 14. Morse was run down Dec. 27 as he rode his skateboard in the 9700 block of 204th Street East near Graham.
Investigators said Ross had a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 at the time of the wreck. The legal limit in Washington is 0.08. Some witnesses said Ross was driving without his lights on when he hit Morse as the boy tried to cross the street about 5:30 p.m.
Deputy prosecutor Tim Jones and defense attorney Dino Sepe agreed to recommend a sentence of 31 months in prison, the low end of the standard range.
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Jones said Ross took responsibility for his actions and spared the boy’s family a grueling trial. Sepe told Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy his client suffers from cognitive disabilities and is remorseful for what happened.
Morse’s uncle, father and older brother praised the teen during the sentencing hearing, calling him, funny, intelligent and respectful.
“I would say, my honor, that respect for others really stands out in my mind when it comes to Daniel,” the boy’s uncle, Mitchell Blondin, told Murphy.
They heaped scorn on Ross.
“I’m infuriated when I reflect on the senseless nature of the defendant’s actions that evening,” Blondin said. “His actions showed no respect for anyone.”
The boy’s father, Troy Morse, said he’s had a chance since his son’s death to realize what’s important in life.
“Mr. Ross took one of them,” Morse told Murphy, “and I hate him for it.”
Morse said he struggles to make his way through each day, sometimes laboring to get out of bed.
“You talk about your standard sentencing ranges; 31 to 41 months from now, I’m still going to have to find a way to get up,” he said.
Murphy then gave Ross a chance to speak. He apologized to the boy’s family and said he hoped one day they could forgive him.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” Ross said of the boy’s death.
Murphy then rejected the joint recommendation and sentenced Ross to the high end of the range.