The Knucklehead of the Day award
Goes to Florida Circuit Court Judge Ric Howard. This out of control knucklead sentenced William Thornton to 30 years in prison for the deaths of Brandon L. Mushlit, 25, and his girlfriend, Sara Jo Williams, 23 in a December 1994 car crash.
At the time of the accident Thornton was 17 and had no driver's license. He also didn't stop at a stop sign where the accident took place.
On the other hand Mr. Mushlit the driver of the other car was DUI(Plus had cocaine residue in his system) and was going 55 in a 30 MPH zone. Neither he nor Ms. Williams was wearing a seatbelt and both were thrown from t he car resulting in their deaths.
Last May authorities charged Mr. Thornton in the deaths of Ms. Williams and Mr. Mushlit. After consulting with the public defender's office who represented him, William Thornton pleaded no contest.
The state Department of Corrections, after investigating the case, recommended that Thornton be sentenced to two years of community control followed by two years of probation. The Department of Juvenile Justice recommended two years in a juvenile detention facility. The Prosecutors felt Mr. Thornton should serve between 18 and 30. No recommendation was made before sentencing.
Judge Howard instead sentenced Mr. Thornton to maximum sentence of 30 years. Before making sentence, the Judge cited William Thornton's father who also had been sentenced by the same judge.
This sentence is one big miscarriage of justice. There is no denying William Thornton is part of fault but 30 years is way over the top. Here's why
1- Mr. Mushlit's fault in the accident.
2- No prior criminal record for Mr. Thornton
3- Mr. Thornton being led to believe he'd get a lighter sentence if he pled.
4- The same Judge Howard in 2004 sentencing a white man to one year in jail for two deaths in a auto accident.
5- Judge Howard citing Mr. Thornton's father in this case. Did that make him biased against the defendant? If it didn't why cite it.
The Public Defender's office is asking for the judge to recuse himself from the case. So far Howard is refusing.
There is plenty of blame to go around in the case, Thornton, Mushlit, The Judge and the Public Defender's office. But it is obvious to me that Judge Howard has a bug up his rear end. 30 years in this case is a travesty. And there is serious doubts as to his objectivity here. Step aside and let another judge pass sentence is only the right thing to do. Our justice system has enough problems, and it has to look to be fair.
For being obstinate and not doing justice, Ric Howard is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
Hat tip- Indefensible
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