Daughter Of OKC Fatal DUI Victim Responds To Sentencing
OKLAHOMA CITY - The family of a UCO professor killed by a drunk driver in 2013 can now have closure.
The driver was sentenced to 25 years in prison for Second Degree Murder.
It was a long and tearful sentencing on the seventh floor of the Oklahoma County Courthouse Monday.
It was where the family of UCO professor Debra Reed wore buttons with her picture on them saying no sentence will bring their mother back.
"It has been an emotional roller coaster," said Melanie Berry, the second-oldest daughter of Debra Reed.
For 20 months, the family of UCO adjunct professor Debra Reed has experienced the biggest turmoil of their lives; losing 58-year-old Reed, a mother of five and grandmother of eight.
She died on Aug. 30, 2013 around 10:30 p.m. when then 20-year-old Chandler Kardaras, with a previous DUI, drove drunk again, and slammed her car into Reed's in Edmond near Portland and 192nd Street.
"Tragedies happen and life goes on but this kind of tragedy is just stupid and senseless and just makes it tougher to swallow,” Berry said.
Nearly two years later, Reed's family sat in the same courtroom with Kardaras' family for her sentencing. Berry said she only lives three miles from Kardaras' family and would often see Kardaras at the grocery store, and it would tear her up inside.
Reed's children and friends came up one-by-one telling the judge emotional stories of Reed's major impact on their lives. She was a master hairstylist, makeup artist and theatre instructor.
"She was the ultimate definition of a mother, she had so many dreams cut short," Berry said.
Reed's youngest daughter said both her mother and father died from alcohol-related crashes.
Kardaras attorney, a childhood friend and her grandfather spoke of her rocky childhood and total turnaround since the deadly wreck. Kardaras has undergone Alcoholics Anonymous and several recovery programs.
Kardaras sobbed the entire way through her heartfelt apology to Reed's family, saying she accepts full responsibility for her role and is filled with remorse and shame for what's she done.
But it was Judge Ray Elliott who spoke for a half hour on how the collision was no accident and Kardaras must pay for actions. He said had Kardaras been jailed for her first DUI, maybe Reed's death could've been prevented.
Elliott sentenced 22-year-old Kardaras 25 years in prison.
In addition, the judge also gave Kardaras two one-year sentences for her previous DUI and driving on a suspended license. They're to be served at the same time of her Second Degree Murder conviction.
“No time that any judge ever gives someone who does this in any way equates to that person's death. But my goal is that she's just there long enough that she truly gets what she's done,” Berry said.
Next month, the family plans to give the second Debra Reed scholarship at UCO in her honor.
The legal battle doesn't stop for the Reed family, who is also suing Kardaras' family for wrongful death.
Berry said a bill she helped write with State Rep. John Enns calling for stricter punishments for underage drivers convicted of DUI did not make it out of the House this session, but she's hopeful the bill will be revised and pass next year.