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Driver in fatal crash sentenced

When Brandon Bayens’ family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner today, there’s going to be an empty chair.

On Sept. 4 , 2004, Bayens, a father of two small children, was killed in a car accident on Hosier Road. On Wednesday morning, Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Westbrook Parker sentenced the driver of the car, Bryon Miller, to a year in jail.

“There is no more difficult case to sentence as attorneys or judges than involuntary manslaughter,” Parker said, handing down a 10-year term, with nine suspended, to Miller. “As

Mr. Miller said, ‘It was an accident.’

“What happened is every parent’s worst nightmare. We get a call in the middle of the night that we never wanted to receive.”

At his bench trial in September 2005, Miller testified that he and Bayens had been drinking at a friend’s house, and left to go to Bayens’ home. Along the way, Miller, who admitted he was traveling above the speed limit, crashed his 2004 Dodge Neon. Bayens died at the scene.

Miller’s sentence could have ranged from probation to 10 years.

Jeff Miller, Bryon’s father,

testified Wednesday that Miller had never had problems at home or school.

“It was not his intent to have this incident,” he said of the crash.

Through defense attorney Barton Daniels, Miller’s mother and girlfriend echoed similar sentiments.

“I’d like to tell Brandon’s family that I’m really sorry,” said a choked-up Miller on the stand. “I’d do anything to take it back.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I haven’t thought about it. It truly was an accident.”

Defense attorney Barton Daniels asked the judge to consider that.

“The evidence wasn’t that Bryon was out there to be in a demolition derby of sorts,” he said. “It was an error of judgment on his part, and not reflective of his lifestyle.

“He made a very, very critical error, and if we simply judge him by this moment in time, I feel we would be doing an injustice.”

Victim statements from Bayens’ family were not read in open court.

“There are people here who cared very much about Brandon,” said prosecutor Jeff James, indicating Bayens’ mother, cousin and grandparents. “It goes against everything ingrained in us for a mother to have to bury her son.

“This family has had a life sentence imposed on them. There are also some other people that I’d like the court consider, and those are Brandon’s two young children.”

As part of his sentence, Miller will be on probation for five years after his release, will not be able to a driver’s license for three years, and must pay restitution of nearly $16,000, which includes Bayens’ funeral expenses.

“I’m satisfied with the sentence,” said Bayens’ mother, Brenda Thomas. “He didn’t get the minimum (probation) so I’m satisfied.”