Logandale parents react after suspected DUI driver sentenced in death of teen daughter in Alaska
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) -It was a horrific crash that stunned the community in Anchorage, Alaska. It has been almost ten years since a drunk driver took the lives of teenagers Brooke McPheters and Jordyn Durr.
The 15-year-old friends were walking home from the mall after a back-to-school shopping trip when an alleged drunk driver hit and killed them as they walked on a sidewalk.
Last week, a judge in Alaska resentenced convicted drunk driver, Stacey Graham, to serve a total of 30 years in prison for the 2013 crash.
McPheters parents, who now live in Logandale, Nevada, near Mesquite, talked to FOX5 about the sentence.
“We are kind of frustrated with the whole criminal system in general. We feel like it’s more geared towards the defense rather than the victim and the victim’s families,” said Brooke’s mother, Shanna McPheters.
The case has played out so long in part, because Graham appealed a 32-year sentence that he didn’t agree with, even though it was part of a plea bargain.
According to KTUU in Anchorage, Graham argued the judge violated his due process rights by allowing, among other things, an emotional video tribute to the two girls at his initial sentencing. He also said they allowed a police officer to testify regarding the trauma he experienced at the scene.
Graham filed an appeal to be resentenced, which was granted by the Alaska Supreme Court.
According to KTUU, Graham’s public defender argued Graham, who has been incarcerated since 2013, has made good on a promise to be an advocate against drunk driving and that reducing his sentence to 26 years to serve would still send a strong message of deterrence.
McPheters’s parents say they hope that people in Southern Nevada will learn from the loss of their daughter.
“Don’t drink and drive. We don’t want anybody else to be affected. I mean, we’re going on almost 10 years,” said Shanna McPheters.
“Judge Saxby went over how the technology has changed since he was a kid. He talked about seatbelts. He talked about everything, your mirrors. But ultimately it still comes down to the person behind the wheel. We can do everything we can, so a vehicle won’t move if you’re intoxicated. It’s going to come down to us as individuals to make that decision to stop doing this,” said Brooke’s father, Gary McPheters.
To honor Brooke and help people in need, the McPheters have set up Brooke’s Good Deeds, which includes a food pantry they run in Logandale that offers mental health counseling on site.
Jordyn Durr’s mother in Alaska told FOX5 she is at peace with the judge’s sentencing decision.
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