60 Days for Killing a Cyclist ?

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Yesterday was the sentencing hearing for the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of my friend, Glenda Taylor.  Glenda was struck and killed by  Todd Kidwell at the Kansas State Time Trial Championships in June of 2015.

I didn’t go to the hearing.  I’m haven’t been feeling that good recently and really didn’t want to live the reality of what has already happened.   Lots of cyclists went there to support Joe, Glenda’s husband, and to support cycling in general.

I did see the sentence pretty soon after it was announced.  60 days in jail and 36 months probation.  Here is a link to the Topeka’s newspaper article about the hearing. 

I don’t understand the legal system.  I don’t know why this whole thing took so long.  I don’t understand the plea agreement for manslaughter.  I don’t understand a lot of things.

Todd Kidwell made some statements that seemed genuine.  He said, “I’m the reason Mrs. Taylor is not here.  I shouldn’t have tried to pass her.”  He also said that “I had a responsibility to Mrs. Taylor.  I know you probably hate me, you have every right to.  I need to make amends.”

Those are words that you want to hear, but impossible to digest.  At least for me.

I don’t know what is right.  A guy sitting in jail isn’t gonna bring back a life.  A guy saying he’s sorry isn’t going to do it either.   Glenda was a super person and didn’t deserve to be on this end of a tragedy.  She is missed by all.

Glenda after winning a medal at cyclocross Nationals.

Some of the friends and supporters of Joe and Glenda that made the trip yesterday.

46 thoughts on “60 Days for Killing a Cyclist ?

    1. Maia Ades

      Do you really mean that? I wanted him to see real prison time. But I don’t want him hung or killed by some other means. I wanted his sentence to carry weight so that we can start to change the climate that bikes are toys and don’t belong on roads.

       
    2. Steve Magas

      Sadly this is not unusual, especially in cases where the defendant had a valid license and was not drunk or high. You’d think just the act of behaving so carelessly that you took another’s life would be sufficient to justify a long sentence, but most courts [& state laws] don’t see it like that. I follow these cases closely in Ohio. We have a misdemeanor vehicular homicide statute. IF certain aggravating factors are proved it can be bumped up to a felony. IN my cases, I’ve seen a barmaid plead guilty to felony leaving the scene after hitting and killing a cyclist…and get 30 days. Another fellow jeri-rigged the brakes on his pickup, and then couldn’t stop when ordered by a cop and ran into and killed a cyclist participating in a fund-raising ride…he got 60 days… a lady who struck and killed a rider on TOSRV, and left the scene – got 60 days –

      In this case, it appears that the judge had the OPTION of a long sentence, but ignored it. In our Ohio cases, I try to keep such cases on the radar of local and state advocacy groups, and try to encourage cyclists to send letters to the judge and prosecutor with their thoughts on sentencing. Not sure if it helps in the misdemeanor cases, but we’ve seen some longer sentences in of the felony cases – a woman who was high on heroin got 13.5 years for a hit/run that happened almost a year ago -another fellow who was drunk got 9.5 years…

      What is “right?” What is “justice?” Should a “nice guy” get less of a sentence than someone who is not as nice? Where does “sending a message” come into play? My hope is that community action, action by the cycling community, can help. In one of our cases the judge cited the fact that he received some 100 letters urging a stiff sentence… I figure that since our judges and prosecutors are Elected it can’t hurt if they know that we are watching and reporting and commenting on their actions…

       
  1. Bolas Azules

    “Your sentence will send a message that hitting and killing a bicyclist will not be tolerated.”

    Well I guess it’s not a great idea to kill someone but it seems to be tolerated.

     
  2. Rich W.

    Obviously, empty words from the killer. Newspaper article reports that he got two speeding tickets since the killing. If the killer gave a shit, he would obviously let up on the gas a little. No respect for human life.

     
    1. Clifford

      Damn. That in and of itself should allow for a revision of the sentencing if such a thing were possible.

       
  3. The Cyclist

    Was he texting, or fiddlin with his stereo or was his fuckin truck to wide for his driving skills or did he just drive thru Glenda like she wasn’t there? I just don’t get it. The only way I can understand this is that one can murder someone and then walk away if one says he’s sorry and dinn’t mean it. I get this feeling that cyclists are treated more like roadkill than human beings. Actually sometimes a deer or a moose gets more respect from motorists than a bleedin cyclist. This needs to change!

     
  4. Here we go again.

    Equal protection under the law?
    Look at the signs in construction zones and other places that warn about $10,000 fines and a year in jail for hitting a cop or a highway department worker. A cyclist? We’re not worth much in the sight of the law, are we?

     
    1. Maia Ades

      In fact the fine for breaking the 3 ft law in Kansas is $75. I was appalled to learn that. That was the fine given Mr. Kidwell for breaking that law.

       
  5. Jay

    I’ve never understood a legal code that will severely punish someone for selling (or even using) drugs, while meting out token jail time to someone who kills through negligent operation of a vehicle.

    Not sure what justice is here either, but I’d like to see genuine contrition or remorse at a minimum. If there have been speeding tickets subsequent to the accident, I’m skeptical that this has happened.

     
  6. jeff

    A part of his defense was pointing out that others would suffer from his absence if he were incarcerated for years. That’s always bothered me, that approach. Wouldn’t that be part of the deterrent, seeing what happens when a provider acts irresponsibly and lawlessly? The damage it causes? He’ll probably serve 60 days of “jail”, not “prison”, in an actual jail somewhere not too far from his home. Most likely he’ll be put work on police cars (I think he’s a mechanic) or do some kind of work there, he may get chummy with the jailers, who may very well empathize with him. He’ll probably have regular contact with his family and business which probably will recover once he’s out. Really not much skin off of his back. Sucks.

     
    1. JB

      Yep, it’s like he’s going out of town for work for 2 months and won’t be able to come back on the weekends.

       
    2. Maia Ades

      He was sentenced to a local jail, as opposed to a prison. So, yes to everything you said. They also used his autistic sons as a reason to not send him to jail.
      I just kept thinking, all they talk about is how his being sent to jail would be bad for the community. Well, that’s the consequence of killing someone. You get taken from your community and family.
      What about the huge hole that has been left from the loss of Glenda? I don’t think anyone on the other side of the courtroom has considered that.

       
      1. Mikelikebikehike

        They’re all idiots. But what if this sort of tragedy happened to the judge or defense attorney?

         
  7. Lord Hamlet

    Cyclists should avoid making enemies at all costs.

    The enemy of a cyclist can run them over with an SUV and expect probation or a short stay in jail. Prison is out of the question.

    Back in the 80s when I put most of my mileage in, if a car hit you, one tended to roll over the hood and maybe bounce off the windshield. Bumps and bruises, maybe a broken bone or two.

    Nowadays, large SUVs have hoods that are higher than your center of gravity, meaning you’ll get sucked underneath and crushed and tumbled.

    Driver distractions were limited to jammed cassettes and oral sex back in the 80s.

    Today we have texting, facebooking, online shopping, pokemon go, but sadly no more oral sex.

     
  8. Bill V.

    It would be nice to see some poetic justice served on him or someone he loves, with the same lenient punishment to whoever did it.

     
    1. JB

      I don’t mean harm to his son(s), but we should all chip in and send him a brand new road bicycle(or recumbent).

      Better yet, the convicted should be forced to ride at least 50 miles per week.

       
  9. Dude Ron

    Did they give him a sobreity check? I got hit in 82 by a guy that was driving with two prior DUI’s and he just talked his way out of the hit like li was my fault for being on the road as they carted me off on a gurny with broken femur. This country is too lenient on this stuff, shit he’s probably bragging bout it in his cell block to to keep his ass from being rampaged!! I want to be a Vigilante Man jk.

     
  10. Dude Ron

    Seriously folks if they dished out some Real Corporal Punishment on these Auto-Assassins they “might” swerve around cyclist’s riding on “They’re Road!” , but no doubt they are too committed to Texting, or spilling theyre brewski, or dropping a joint to actually give a shit! The Dude Abides!

     
  11. barb

    The way to hurt him for this act of gross negligence is the family needs to file suit for wrongful death. The ones who will suffer most however, if he loses everything, are his children. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and vengeance is misplaced in this situation. Or maybe some anonymous person will just kick his stupid ass some day.

     
  12. James

    The phycology is thus. Cyclist’s do not belong on the road. Cyclist’s take the risk & this is what happens. Doesn’t matter what the law says. It is the culture.

    It is not that complicated. And it will never change. NEVER. Sad, but better to live in reality.

     
    1. Amy

      James, Do you remember when anyone asked for your opinion? Ya, neither do I. Next time you decide to leave an ignorant comment, try spell check.

       
      1. James

        It is what it is Amy. If it were otherwise people who hit cyclists would be dealt sentences eqaul to manslaughter in other cases. They are not. And cases would not be pleaded out for manslaught in the first place.

        As a cyclist who has been hit by a car, in which all the details were in my favor, the law is not on your side. From the first EMT who arrived, it was just another “stupid” cyclist.

         
  13. Michael McNutt

    The real problem here is judge who handed down this sentence. Until judges, courts and police start enforcing the law(s) that are on books and start enforcing them like they do drunk driving laws this kind of murder of riders will continue.

     
    1. LD

      Another factor is that most people – judges, prospective jurors, prosecutors – are motorists and at least implicitly side with the driver. They can easily see themselves in his situation and sympathize with him, not with the victim or her family.

       
  14. Randy Warren

    Had I been the judge it would have been 60 years minimum and a life time of karma. Neither of which will bring Glenda back to us.
    What I truly don’t understand is why his license was not revoked and it be mandated he ride a bicycle for the remainder of his life.Sadly this is a typical case of community law placed on a community member who has harmed an “outsider” and judged according to local culture.

     
  15. Alex Pline

    I was involved in a local case in MD where a teacher at our high school was killed on a local road. What I want to see in these cases where, in the end it was just very bad judgement on the part of the driver and not a malicious act, is not jail time but very heavy community service requirements. Putting someone in jail is just punitive to one person and serves no greater good. If it were me that was killed, I would want something positive to come out of it. Give the driver 5000 hours of community service where they have to go into every high school in the state and talk about what happened and the consequences and teach people how not to make those bad choices. We won’t have any real change in behavior until we teach new drivers what the expected norms are and community service such as this will go much farther than State DOT public service announcements. There are always cycling advocacy groups that are willing to assist with these kinds of community service programs.

     
    1. Davey

      While I haven’t figured out what I think would be the appropriate punishment (I think jail time is necessary as a deterrent and punishment) I do like the community service component. Drivers do need more (some?) education on what to do around a cyclist. I have heard many people who say that don’t know what to do and how much room to leave. This is consistent with my experience on the road with drivers passing at various distances and some putting me in a bad situation, probably without realizing it.

       
  16. KrakatoaEastofJava

    I try and see it holistically. As in the “whole” of the matter. This guy also supports a family (with autistic twins). I know from experience, this guy does not live a stress-free existence. Sticking him in prison for ten years will only shatter more lives. Going to jail for sixty days is hardly a cake-walk.

    It is indeed terrible what happened to her. The guy pleaded guilty against his attorney’s advice (to take ownership of the situation), and as you all know darn well, that attorney only gave him that advice because he knew he could probably either get him acquitted, or could get him a greatly reduced settlement.

    At least with sixty days in the clink, he can scramble back reasonably well and render support to his wife and kids.

     
    1. LD

      All that’s true, and I agree, but where is in the disincentive for other drivers? When they see, time after time after time, that a motorist who “accidentally” kills someone gets off with very little jail time, why should they take great pains to treat all road users with care? A friend of mine is serving 8 years in prison for “accidentally” setting fire to his apartment (suicide attempt). No one was killed or seriously injured but he’s serving a sentence 48 times as long as Kidwell. Where is the justice in such disparity?

       
      1. KrakatoaEastofJava

        The last thing we ever seem to get out of the justice system is justice. Second to last is parity. No one ever seems to win but attorneys.

         
      2. KrakatoaEastofJava

        Just like prison or the death penalty is no “disincentive” for murder. Because murder still happens quite regularly, as do bonehead moves made by bonehead drivers.

        There is a saying that the only difference between a model citizen and a mass murder can be a few drinks and a bad day. Thank about that. Have you almost hit a cyclist (accidentally) with your car? I know I almost have. Darn lucky that it didn’t go badly, actually.

         
  17. escargot

    Let’s get it straight. The roads are for fast, convenient and safe travel (for the driver). Anything that gets in the way is an inconvenience, whether it’s roadkill — a deer, a possum — or bug splatter (be it a moth or mosquito). This is the mentality cyclists must live with: Drivers would rather wipe out a cyclist than either themselves wrt oncoming traffic or driving into the ditch in avoidance (cuz, yes, they might get hurt or damage their car, heaven forbid).

    This guy appears to be a hot head and, in his haste, didn’t care if he missed the victim by an inch or a mile… only he guessed wrong this time. Pathetic. And, yes, he missed his third choice between a head-on or the ditch and that’s DRIVING IN A MANNER APPROPRIATE FOR THE CONDITIONS. The conditions were that there were vulnerable people on the road. Apparently quite a few of them. Damn inconvenient!

    Here’s another pathetic story from across the pond with a not terribly dissimilar outcome. Again, the punishment hardly fits the impact of the action/ crime/ call it whatever the hell you want to call it… and that’s part of the problem: it’s trivialized as an accident. “OOPS! Oh well, someone died. My bad.” Here ya go: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4110382/Motorbiker-killed-British-international-cyclist-head-crash-later-led-police-high-speed-chase-jailed-18-months.html

     
    1. escargot

      And here’s another recent example ( Ellen Watters ): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/ellen-watters-death-1.3914004 and we all know of many many many more over the years. Too many.

      A few things about incidents involving bicycles irk me (all of which have been discussed in Steve’s blog from time to time but I rarely chime in):
      – “A cyclist fell off his bike.” Not once have I ever seen a bike continue on without a rider. It was a crash.
      – Cyclist hit by car dies or is injured: Factoid #1 is whether or not the cyclist was wearing a helmet. OMG Don’t blame the cyclist/ victim. Do pedestrians wear helmets? Do car drivers? Is it even the law for cyclists in your jurisdiction to wear a helmet?
      – Finally, I think we need more words than just ‘cyclist’ to define someone on a bike as, unlike driving a car where there are supposed to be standards (and a licence), unless someone has actually had cycling training via a club/ competition, etc., there is no standard level of skill among ‘cyclists’ (and, I know, even then it’s questionable!). Regardless, we all suffer by association. We need a broader vocabulary to describe a person with a bike — yes, even beyond “lycra lout” — just as we need a word other than ‘accident’.

      While I may regret wishing this, as long as it doesn’t kill or maim us (too), bring on the driverless car.

       
      1. KrakatoaEastofJava

        The last thing a driver-less car will be programmed to adequately avoid is bikes. They behave in a very un-car-like manner. Cyclists will die.

         
      2. Lord Hamlet

        From Hamlet –

        “Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,
        That I have shot mine arrow o’er the house,
        And hurt my brother.”

        The illogical conclusion being – it is the arrow at fault and not the one who shot the arrow so carelessly.

        This thinking still pervades today. A cyclist is at fault no matter how careless the driver was.

        The language also sets it up.

        Terms like cyclist and accident distance themselves from the reality.

        Human. Murdered.

        When we start calling these events what they are, we will begin to see longer sentences in our trials and more thoughtful and careful drivers on our roads.

         
  18. caliracer

    I always tell people don’t try to understand sentences that are handed down, because you won’t. There are so many things that come into play you can’t predict it. From the article about the crash it appears to have been nothing more than a tragic accident, as the pickup was passing the rider going the same direction. IF that was the case, then short sentences often are the just outcome. Yes, it’s sad someone died, it always is. But sending people to jail for decades over a simple unintended accident isn’t the answer either. Think if it was you who reached down for your coffee cup and swerved slightly at the wrong time hitting and killing someone walking, a cyclist, etc. In reality it can happen to any of us.

    Heck even Steve admitted to driving soon after his accident when he should not have been driving. If Steve had hit and seriously injured or killed someone the repercussions could have been far worst than this guy’s sentence because a reasonable person should have known not to drive in that condition.

    Of course, if there was some malicious intent or drugs/alcohol involved then there should be a longer sentence. Nothing I’ve read so far points to that in this case.

     

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