Mar 25, 2015 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Ronald Raymond Fischer Jr., the man convicted in February of the 2013 death of Cazenovia resident Maegan Spinder, was sentenced to more than 30 years in South Dakota state prison this week — the maximum sentence possible for his two felony counts of vehicular homicide.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announced on Monday, March 23, that Fischer, 30, was sentenced to 15 years for each count of vehicular homicide (two counts), one year for driving or control of vehicle with alcohol blood or while under the influence of alcohol or drug and 180 days for ingesting non-alcoholic substance to become intoxicated person. All sentences were determined to run consecutively.
“Ronald Fischer’s decision to drive drunk and out-of-control was a senseless act that has taken two young lives causing a tremendous loss for two families. My thoughts remain with the Klumb and Spindler families,” said Jackley. “This case demonstrates the need for legislative review of South Dakota’s vehicular homicide law because the action of taking a human life should be valued at more than a maximum of 15 years with further reductions in parole eligibility.”
According to the Spindler family, South Dakota’s criminal statutes classify the double killings as “not a crime of violence” and provide presumed parole after serving only 30 percent of the sentence — meaning Fischer will be eligible for release from prison in approximately 9 years, assuming good behavior.
Fischer was convicted of killing Spindler, 25, a 2006 graduate of Cazenovia High School, and her co-worker Dr. Robert Allan Klumb, 46, of Pierre, S.D., on July 8, 2013, after Fischer drove his minivan through a stop sign, continued into a hotel parking lot and hit and killed Spindler and Klumb, who had just finished a day’s work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Fischer was determined by police to be under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana at the time of the incident; his blood alcohol was three times the legal limit.
He was arrested and indicted on two counts of first degree manslaughter, two counts of vehicular homicide, one count of driving or control of vehicle with alcohol in the blood or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and one count of ingesting non-alcoholic substance to become intoxicated. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In a Feb. 4, 2015, circuit court decision, Fischer was found guilty of two counts of vehicular homicide, a Class 3 felony, each carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and/or $30,000 fine, as well as one count of driving or control of vehicle with alcohol blood or while under the influence of alcohol or drug, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and one count of ingesting non-alcoholic substance to become intoxicated, also a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Fischer was acquitted on the two first degree manslaughter charges.
“The Spindler family is thankful Fischer will finally be sent to the state prison after 20 months of confinement in his home town. However, the sentence is absolutely not commensurate with the 60 years of expected life he took from Maegan and the 40 years he took from Rob,” the Spindler family said in a written statement. “We specifically take exception to Judge Anderson’s failure on Feb. 4 to have convicted Fischer for two counts of first degree manslaughter. The judge provided lengthy, contorted logic in his decision the Fischer did not intend to kill the victims, but first degree manslaughter does not require intent.”
Since losing their daughter, Greg and Susan Spindler, of Cazenovia, have been lobbying to reform South Dakota DUI laws, which they saw are some of the worst in the nation.
“We wonder if Fischer had not been drunk and high, and killed Maegan and Rob in the same manner, what would the charges and verdict be for such a depraved but sober act?” the Spindlers wrote in their statement. “Perhaps second degree murder or first degree manslaughter? Unfortunately this outcome is all too typical for South Dakota.”
In its statement announcing Fischer’s sentence, the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office said it plans to work with legislators to review increasing the maximum penalty of 15 years classification for vehicular homicide and to move the vehicular homicide offense to the violent crime category, requiring more time served before parole eligibility.
For more information about the Spindler family DUI reform proposals, visit sgsstat.com/sd_dui_reform_proposal.html.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.
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