Attorneys: Sentence lets man in wedding day wreck move forward

A Pickens County man could be home in about six months after his guilty plea and sentencing Tuesday for causing the death of his new wife while driving drunk from their wedding reception in December 2013.

And attorneys on both sides told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that one factor in the sentence may have been the support of the victim’s family.

“Kali’s family was 100 percent behind Ryan from the beginning,” Ryan Quinton’s attorney Scott Poole said. “That was helpful to us.”

Kali Shay Dobson, 25, of Ball Ground, was riding with Quinton in a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am after their evening reception when he lost control of his car, went off the road, down an embankment and flipped over. Dobson was thrown from the vehicle, which landed on her.

Quinton’s blood-alcohol tests showed he was over the legal limit.

A half-year later, in May 2014, Quinton left a bar after drinking and was arrested for DUI.

This week, he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide based on reckless driving and to the separate charge of DUI in Pickens County. Quinton, 29, of Jasper, is facing about three months in a state probation detention center followed by another few months in the Cherokee County jail. He won’t be able to drive for five years, will be on probation for 15 years and will be in a DUI court program.

Sentencing in the case was not negotiated. It was totally up to the judge.

District attorney Shannon Wallace said Thursday she recommended a 15-year sentence, with the first seven years to be served in prison.

Quinton’s attorneys asked for a sentence of 15 years probation and a requirement that he complete the Cherokee County DUI court program, which includes 24 months of rehabilitation.

“This was a difficult and unusual case for our office as the victim’s family and friends opposed this prosecution and advocated for no prison time whatsoever for Mr. Quinton,” Wallace said.

Wallace said Quinton “did spare both families from having to relive the horrors” of the wreck.

“We respect the decision of the court to show Mr. Quinton mercy,” Wallace added, “while seeking rehabilitation for him and we hope the sentence brings the victim’s family some measure of peace.”

Poole said Quinton is “extraordinarily relieved.” Five to seven years in prison would be common in similar cases, he added.

“With his wife dying, that was the death of their dream of a lifetime together,” Poole said. “But that doesn’t have to be the last happy thing to happen to Ryan. He can take responsibility and move forward. He’s in a lot better place now than he was right after the wreck.”

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