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The shaken apology given by Geoffrey Dupuis to members of Randy York's family was nothing more than "lip service," a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge said Thursday, noting that despite clear evidence and a jury conviction, he still did not accept responsibility for Mr. York's death.
"Mr. Dupuis, you have still attempted to maintain this theory of an accident," Judge Gary Cook said, noting that a video recording of the incident showed a clear picture of what happened. "You still have not accepted any responsibility in the crime. I certainly have no problem imposing the mandatory sentence."
Dupuis, 47, of 3355 W. Laskey Rd., was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for the June 11 dragging death of Mr. York. A jury considered evidence presented during a four-day trial and deliberated for 3 1/2 hours before finding Dupuis guilty of murder Dec. 1 for purposefully hitting Mr. York in the parking lot of a West Toledo Speedway gas station and dragging him with his minivan.
"Anyone who saw that evidence, saw the videotape can see that this was anything but an accident," Judge Cook said. "I want to point out that you can see Mr. York very clearly in front of your vehicle."
Twelve witnesses testified during the trial, including Dupuis as the defense's sole witness. Four customers testified they saw an angry and belligerent Dupuis arguing with his son at the gas station on Secor and Laskey roads. One witness testified she heard the older Dupuis threaten the young woman who worked in the store.
They told the court Dupuis' son Jacob punched a customer, and that was when Mr. York approached the Dupuis vehicle in an attempt to keep the men there while waiting for police.
Witnesses testified that Mr. York was clearly visible to Dupuis when he gunned his engine and sped off.
Dupuis told jurors he was frustrated and angry because his gas pump wasn't working, but he became scared for himself and his son after a group of customers surrounded his vehicle. He testified he drove off in an attempt to "remove [himself] from the area to determine what was going on."
While seated in a wheelchair for a medical condition, Dupuis turned to members of Mr. York's family Thursday and apologized.
"I just want an opportunity to tell … the family of Mr. York that this was a horrific accident," he said. "That's all it was, an accident, and I'm sorry."
Attorney Phillip Carlisle noted that Judge Cook was bound by a mandatory sentence. He said that Dupuis intended to appeal his conviction.
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Mr. Carlisle said in court his client "has maintained this was not an intentional act and was instead an accident." He declined to comment further after the sentencing.
Mr. York's son, Daniel, 21, said after the hearing that he, his younger brother, Adam, and his mother, Jane, all heard Dupuis' apology but were not necessarily ready to accept it.
"It wasn't an accident. I think there was some part of him that meant to do it," he said. "I can come to accept his apology, but he's getting what he deserves."
In court, the younger Mr. York made a statement in which he addressed his father. He told his dad that he and his brother will "always carry with them the things [their father] instilled" in them.
"Dad, you will forever be remembered by myself as a hero, you died trying to do the right thing," Daniel York said. "You didn't deserve to die, but I will forever be waiting for the day when we will meet again."
Dupuis was tried and convicted of murder, or knowingly causing someone's death as a result of a felonious assault. The jury also could have considered reckless homicide, a third-degree felony involving "recklessly causing the death of another." In addition to the prison sentence and fine, Judge Cook ordered Dupuis to pay $11,054.95 in restitution to various parties for funeral expenses.
"Clearly he knew what he was doing, and he still refuses to take responsibility for his actions that night," Assistant County Prosecutor Michael Loisel said after the sentencing.
Dupuis was not the only one found guilty of his actions June 11.
According to court records, Jacob Dupuis, 19, is serving a 180-day sentence at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio after he pleaded no contest in August to misdemeanor assault. A sentencing review hearing has been scheduled in Toledo Municipal Court on Friday.
Attending the sentencing were two witnesses who were at the gas station that night and testified during the trial. Lizette Proshek and Tammy Winkler Pandi, said after the sentencing that they still are haunted by the events of that night. They said that the only blessing is that they have come to know each other and Mr. York's family.
"My grief for [the family] and their grief for us has been mutual," Ms. Pandi said.
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.