Gene S. Mensik sat very still while listening to scathing statements read in court by the daughters and wife of the man he fatally hit while driving drunk April 21.
The 51-year-old Sequim man pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and hit-and-run June 14 and was sentenced to 50 months in prison July 21.
Scott Franklin was on his daily morning walk down Washington Street when Mensik drove his Jeep up onto the sidewalk, striking Franklin from the back. Mensik continued to drive 11 blocks through Sequim before stopping in a parking lot near the Sequim Police station where he was contacted by officers and arrested. Police said his breath registered 0.147 on a portable blood-alcohol content Breathalyzer.
At the sentencing hearing, Courtney Franklin, Scott Franklin’s oldest daughter, said she and her mother drove by the accident scene, not knowing that the police cars and ambulances were there for her father.
Three days later she, her mother, sister and brother made the difficult decision of taking him off life support at Harborview Medical Center, she said.
Opal Franklin said her husband had lost 130 pounds and finally was healthy and happy.
They moved to Sequim from California to get back on their feet after falling on hard times and to aid Scott Franklin’s ailing father, who has Altzheimer’s.
“How am I supposed to live?” she said during the hearing. “My future is in shambles.”
Courtney Franklin said the loss of her father has been “unimaginably devastating.”
“I shouldn’t have to hold my grandpa, like he held me when I was a child, while he cries over the loss of his only son,” she said.
Catie Franklin said Mensik carelessly took her father’s life and she questions whether he feels sorry or guilty at all.
“The pathetic thing is you’re a grown man who made a careless decision,” she said, adding his family only would miss him for four years whereas her family will miss her father forever. “Right now you don’t deserve a chance to have your life back.”
Her voice shaking through tears, she told Mensik she never would forgive him.
“I’ll never understand why it was my dad’s life that was taken when his family needed him so much,” she said.
Under the terms of the plea bargain, Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor Ann Lundwall recommended a sentence of 50 months, based on Mensik’s low offender score.
State law sets sentencing ranges based on offender scores, Judge George Wood explained. He noted Lundwall “doesn’t go easy” on cases like this one.
Because Mensik only has misdemeanors on his criminal record, the maximum sentence under state law is 54 months on the hit-and-run charge. The vehicular homicide sentencing range was capped at 46 months, which Wood said he thought was low.
“I often wonder why the Legislature has chosen to impose such a low range for someone who gets behind the wheel and kills someone,” he said.
If someone gets behind the wheel after drinking, “The possibility is very high you’re going to hurt someone,” he said.
Franklin’s family criticized the sentence.
“No time in prison will ever be enough but 54 months is a slap in the face,” Courtney Franklin said.
Treatment part of sentence
Public Defender Penny Jackson said Mensik’s alcoholism is really his way of self-medicating his paranoid schizophrenia. She said he hears voices.
Mensik was very still and silent throughout the hearing, answering only “yes” or “no” to the judge’s questions.
Mensik continually has expressed remorse and has claimed the reason he drove to the other end of town after hitting Franklin was to report the accident in person because he didn’t have a cell phone, Jackson said.
Wood said in 19 years on the bench he’s never seen someone plead guilty so quickly, taking responsibility for their actions and not drawing out the legal process, which can be very hard on the victim’s family.
In addition to the 50-month prison sentence and 18 months of probation, Mensik must get mental health and alcohol evaluations and treatment, Wood said.
“I pray to God he’s not going to hurt someone else,” he said.