A judge in Audubon County has sentenced a southern Iowa man to 25-years in prison for his role in a 2011 crash that claimed the life of a Hamlin teen. Judge James Richardson handed down the sentence late this (Monday) morning against 57-year old Kendall L. Ware, of Lineville, despite a request from Ware’s attorney for a new trial, because, he said “No reasonable jury could have determined based on the evidence presented, that (Ware) was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence,” and that his “Being under the influence caused the death,” of 17-year old Kristopher George Crawley, and seriously injured Jason Rattenborg, of Audubon. He also said the court did not submit to the jury the defense’ instructions based on foundation.
This past May, a jury found Ware guilty of Vehicular Homicide/OWI, and Serious Injury by Vehicle. The judge today (Monday) denied the request for a new trial. Ware had faced up to 30-years in prison on two combined felony charges, and fines amounting to $7,500, but the Judge ordered Ware to serve 25-years on the first charge and 5-years for the second, with the sentences to be served concurrently, or, at the same time. The Judge also ordered Ware to pay $150,000 to Crawley’s family, and to pay Rattenborg’s medical and personal loss costs. He must also pay a $1,500 fine associated with the second charge. Ware’s license was revoked for 6-years. He will be required to live at the Iowa Classification Center in Oakdale for the duration of his sentence.
Ware was the driver of a pickup that collided with an SUV occupied by Crawley and Rattenborg. The accident happened during the late night hours of October 19th, 2011 on Highway 71, north of Brayton. Ware’s passenger, Mark Anthony Piearson, of Leon, was also injured. Ware had a blood-alcohol content of .205, following the crash, or more than 2½ times the legal limit. During the months following an investigation into the crash, Ware fled the area. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service, in North Dakota.
In a statement to the family of the victims, Ware issued a tearful, choked-up apology, and asked for their forgiveness, and said he has lived with the nightmare of his actions ever since the crash happened. The mother of George Crawley also issued a statement, saying her life has been forever changed as well, and that forgiveness was not something that would happen any time soon. She also said she had been dealing with depression since the loss of her son.
Crawley’s father showed a picture of his son to Ware. He told him Ware stole his son from him, and the man he could have become. Rattenborg’s mother also spoke, and said both she and Jason were devastated by the incident. She said he wants the memory of that night to go away, and wishes he could have died too, with his best friend.