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March 22, 2013

Driver sentenced for DUI crash that killed 5-year-old

BEDFORD — A Bedford County judge on Friday stopped short of imposing a maximum sentence allowable by law on a man who pleaded guilty in the death of a 5-year-old, but not by much.

Judge Travis Livengood sentenced Cory Franklin Childers to 6 1/2 to 20 years in state prison. The judge could have imposed a minimum term of seven years.

Additionally, Childers was fined $9,500 plus court costs as a result of the April 29 death of Julyen Winters of Hagerstown, Md., that resulted from a traffic crash in Bedford Township.

Last month, Childers pleaded guilty to charges including vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by DUI, vehicular homicide and drunken driving.

Livengood said he was imposing the sentence in part because the death involved a young boy, but also because Childers was driving drunk while he was on probation and not permitted to drink. Also, he was traveling 95 mph – 60 mph above the speed limit for the commercial area near the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange where the crash occurred.

Police said Childers, 23, of Bedford, was driving north on Business

Route 220 when his car crossed the double yellow line and into the path of a southbound minivan driven by Rory Slade Jenkins, 52, of Hagerstown.

The child was a passenger in Jenkins’ vehicle, which was struck on the driver’s side. The boy was thrown from the minivan.

An adult in the minivan, Amanda Jean Winters, 28, also of Hagerstown, and a 2-year old boy received moderate injuries.

Police said that Childers had a blood alcohol level of .18 percent, more than twice the legal limit to drive in Pennsylvania. Narcotics also were detected in his system, authorities said.

In emotional statements to the court, Julyen’s father, grandmother and a brother told the judge how the death of the boy has impacted their lives.

“What this man did was despicable,” the father said.

In urging the judge to take a hard stand against Childers, Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins said: “You just can’t understand the impact this has had on this family.”

Defense attorney Thomas Dickey said his client regrets his actions and urged the court to limit the sentence to three to six years in prison.

“He wants to accept responsibility,” Dickey said. “He is educated and he has a good future in front of him from an employment standpoint.”

In addressing the family of the dead boy, Childers said he thinks about the boy every day.

“I know that being sorry will never bring back your son, your brother, your grandson,” he said. “But hopefully this (the sentencing) can help you start in the healing process.”

Childers said he hopes to be able to turn his tragic mistake into something others can learn from once he is released from prison.

“I want to help others understand that just getting behind the wheel one time drunk is all it takes,” he told the court.

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