WHITEHALL (AP) – A driver who texted on his cellphone minutes before striking and killing an elderly woman in a crosswalk will avoid jail time if he complies with his sentencing conditions in Trempealeau County.
Timothy Peterson, 41, sobbed and shook with his head in his hands Tuesday when Judge John Damon sentenced him to a five-year diversion agreement. It requires him to serve 200 hours of community service, including 100 hours spent talking to teens about the dangers of texting and driving.
“If there is any stepping over the line, you’ll be brought back for sentencing, and there won’t be an issue imposing incarceration,” Damon said.
Cecelia Killian, 86, was killed Jan. 9, 2013 as she crossed a street in Independence. Peterson’s cellphone showed he had texted two minutes before the crash, the La Crosse Tribune reported.
Peterson pleaded no contest Tuesday to homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. His statement to the court said the crash is burned in his heart and mind.
“This has had a profound, lifetime effect on him,” said his attorney, Richard Schaumberg. “I don’t think a fine, jail or prison would punish him any more than the mental grief he feels today,” Schaumberg said.
The victim’s family endorsed the diversion agreement, saying a prison sentence would only hurt another family. Conditions of the agreement also require Peterson to maintain Killian’s gravesite and pay $10,188 restitution for funeral expenses.