Joseph Anthony Short pleaded with the widow of the man he killed for forgiveness, apologized to the loved ones who for years begged him to seek help and awaited his fate Tuesday – a state prison sentence of 15 years to life for vehicular manslaughter in a drunken collision on Highway 50 last April.
“There are not enough words. I want all of this to never have taken place. I’m not a bad man. I’m a flawed man,” Short, 34, told a distraught Tian Condell from inside a courtroom cell at his sentencing Tuesday before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Goodman. “Miss Condell, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.”
David Condell, 51, was killed when a drunken Short plowed into the back of his car April 24 on a Highway 50 shoulder near Howe Avenue.
Short, once chef de cuisine at popular midtown Sacramento restaurant Paragary, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in October. Short also admitted to two prior charges of driving under the influence and to an allegation of driving with a high alcohol content.
Short pleaded no contest in 2010 to a charge of DUI, according to Sacramento Superior Court records. Prosecutors said Short’s blood alcohol content was 0.36 in that incident.
Authorities said Short’s blood alcohol level was 0.35, more than four times the legal limit of 0.08, after the fatal April wreck.
With the plea, Short must serve 7½ years of his initial 15-year term before he becomes eligible for parole, his attorney Michael Abrate said after the Tuesday hearing. He called Short “extremely remorseful,” saying that he is encouraging Short to attend drug and alcohol counseling in prison.
“I’m confident he’s going to do everything he needs to,” Abrate said. “This has hit him hard.”
Tian Condell had prepared a statement to read to Goodman, but after a long pause she finally shook her head and slumped into a chair, leaving her remarks to a family friend.
Tian’s life since the wreck has been an “ongoing nightmare,” the friend read as the Condell and Short families and friends took in her words from the gallery. Short listened from behind bars.
“Nothing will ever bring my husband back. You not only took my husband, you took my other half,” Tian Condell’s remarks read, recalling a man of warmth and intelligence who found the good in people. “This has left a scar inside me that will always remain.”
Prosecutors said Short careened in and out of early evening traffic on Highway 50 at speeds topping 100 mph. Condell had pulled over to the roadside to help Tian whose car had run out of gas.
Both were about to pull away from the shoulder when Short’s car slammed into David Condell’s car, killing Condell instantly.
The impact smashed Condell’s car into Tian’s vehicle and sent Short’s car skidding across the freeway and into another car in the far-left lane.
Sacramento County prosecutors say Short’s car had reached speeds of 103 mph in the seconds before the crash.