A circuit judge will be considering whether an intoxicated driver convicted in the death of an 18-year-old passenger should be granted shock probation despite receiving what the judge said he considered a “fairly lenient sentence.”
Attorneys met Friday in Franklin County Circuit Court to discuss the request from 21-year-old Austin Coleman Moore, who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison in connection with the June 2017 wreck that killed Alyssa Hutcherson. Moore has been in custody since the fatal wreck, and his defense attorney has now requested he be released on a program for young, first-time offenders meant to deter recidivism.
Under "shock probation," a judge orders a convicted offender to prison for a short time then suspends the remainder of the sentence in favor of probation.
Defense attorney Robert Rowland told the judge that Moore’s time in custody has been spent completing programs in order to become a better person. He said that Moore has also had plenty of time to reflect on his actions and should be considered for early release.
“There has not been a day that has gone by that he doesn’t regret what he has done,” Rowland told Shepherd. “If released, it wouldn’t release him of the guilt he feels for her and her family.”
Both Moore’s family and Hutcherson’s family looked on from the audience during the discussion.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland only responded that filed documents support the argument that granting shock probation for Moore would undermine the severity of the case.
Circuit Judge Philip Shepherd agreed that a case involving death is not to be taken lightly, and he said he would consider Moore’s request for shock probation. However, he did not seem inclined to grant the request.
“I do appreciate the fact Mr. Moore is taking classes,” Shepherd said. “But I think the jury took all of that into consideration, and in light of the charges handed down a fairly light sentence.”
Shepherd said he would take the request under advisement and issue an order later.
The case stems from a crash at about 2 a.m. on June 14, 2017. Moore was driving a Ford Expedition when it veered off Bridgeport-Benson Road and crashed into a tree, taking the life of Hutcherson. The prosecution argued that Moore had been drinking, smoking marijuana and snorting Adderall beforehand.
At trial, Cleveland said Moore had been speeding at the time because he was planning on jumping the upcoming railroad tracks in the road.
“He was gonna fly. He wanted to show off,” Cleveland told the jury.
Moore and a 16-year-old female passenger were transported to Frankfort Regional Medical Center after the crash with non-life-threatening injuries.
The defense countered there was no proof that Moore crushed and snorted his prescription pills, and the surviving teenage passenger testified that they were not speeding.
“She said she never felt endangered by Austin and put in writing that it was not his fault,” defense attorney James Kay told the jury.
Moore, the son of Franklin County Fiscal Court Magistrate Lambert Moore, was originally charged with murder, but the jury convicted him of the lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter, a Class C felony, and a charge of wanton endangerment, a Class D felony. He was facing a five- to 10-year sentence on the manslaughter charge and a one- to five-year sentence on the wanton endangerment charge to be served consecutively. The jury recommended Moore be sentenced to eight years, which was upheld by Shepherd.