Struhs sentenced for vehicular manslaughter
BLACKFOOT — Kenny Carl Struhs, age 42, was sentenced for vehicular manslaughter Tuesday by Seventh Judicial District Judge Darren Simpson.
Struhs was sentenced to be incarcerated for 10 years fixed and 5 years indeterminate, "that is not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years," Simpson said. Struhs was credited with 222 days for time served.
Struhs was fined $2,500 and $285.50 court costs.
On Aug. 2, 2012, Struhs ran a stop sign on East Harmony and Rich Lane and hit a motorcycle driven by Brent Hansen with his 6-year-old daughter behind him. The motorcycle exploded.
Struhs drove away from the scene of the accident and was stopped when he had an accident, said Cleve Colson, Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney. His blood alcohol level was 0.157 at the time of his arrest, which is about twice the legal limit.
About 30 members of the Hansen family attended Struh's sentencing. Ten members of Struh's family were also present to support him.
Offering victims' impact statements were Brent's wife, Emily, his father, Lewis, his mother, Linda, and his brother, Barry.
Emily Hansen, Brent's wife, explained the impact the loss of her husband has had on her family.
"I am left to raise five children by myself," Emily said. Her sons 10, 8 and 3 years old. Her daughters are 6 and 1.
"My [oldest son] has the heavy burden of being man of the family," she said.
"[My 8-year-old] doesn't try to hide emotions," Emily said. "He said, 'I would give all my toys to have my daddy back.'
"[My 6-year-old] was involved in the accident," her mother said. "She saw him breathe his last breath; saw him bleeding; saw the motorcycle on fire.
"She knows she was loved because he spent his last moment trying to protect her," Emily said. "She experiences trauma of the event itself and feels guilty because it was her idea to take a ride," Emily said.
"[The 3-year-old] has temper tantrums saying, 'I want my daddy back.'" his mother said.
"I wish [Brent] could be here to enjoy our [1-year-old] daughter," said Emily.
"I have forgiven [Struhs] for the choice he made," she said. "God has given me peace.
"Jesus Christ has power to save [Struhs]. He is important to Jesus," Emily said. "I want you to know how this has affected us.
She asked the court to protect others and stated she is asking for restitution.
"No consequence is adequate," Emily said.
Hansen's mother, Linda, stated in court that Hansen sustained extensive injuries including a broken neck, bones broken in his face, one arm and both legs broken, a broken jaw and burns from his head to his ankles because of the fire.
"I take full responsibility," Struhs said in court. "I made some bad choices. I admit wrong; I cannot take back the pain. I'm sorry.
"I do wish for counseling and help," he said. "I leave [the punishment] up to you guys."
Most of your crimes deal with vehicles, Judge Simpson said. There is a failure to stop in an accident, invalid driver’s license, inattentive driving, DUI and three open containers.
“It is a significance how I treat this case,” Simpson said.
“I know you’ve had a rough time of it,” the judge said. “You are not the only one who has faced adversities.
“These are choices you made,” Simpson said. “You have a substance abuse problem.
“In your PSI (presentence investigation), you stated you were drunk 255 days in the last year,” the judge said. “It states you would buy an 18-pack of beer in North Dakota and another 18-pack in Billings.
“You can get drunk but don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle,” Simpson said.
“I saw very little remorse,” he said. “I’m not sure you completely grasp your substance problem and how it has affected your life.
“Your choices have affected a lot of people,” Simpson said. “Mrs. Hansen has no ill will towards you. Let’s hope a 6-year-old girl remembers wanting to spend time with her dad.
“You need rehabilitation,” the judge said. “Your driving privileges are suspended for the rest of your life.”
Struhs was sentenced to be incarcerated for 10 years fixed and 5 years indeterminate, “that is not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years," Simpson said. Struhs was credited with 222 days for time served.
Struhs was fined $2,500, a civil fine of $5,000 and $285.50 for court costs.
Judge Simpson recommended Struhs apply for and participate in the therapeutic community program.
A hearing on restitution and child support is scheduled in April.
The consequences of [Struhs’] actions are detrimental to [the Hansen] family, said the county's prosecuting attorney. This sentence protects society in the future, deters this crime and punishes behavior.
“With [Struh's] crime history and choices in this matter, I think this is an appropriate sentence,” said Colson.