FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – There’s a number on Phillip Markee’s phone that he desperately wants to call.
Whether it’s good times or bad, Markee always scrolls the name, stares at it, wondering what this man he called his best friend would say to him.
What advice would he give? What encouragement was he going to say to her?
What would his cousin’s voice still sound like?
“I find myself at family gatherings, watching everyone, and I want to lean over to him and say, ‘Did you see that?'” Markee said during a Friday hearing in Superior Court. from Allen.
“He is not there.”
An Allen Superior Court judge sentenced the man who caused a 2020 Memorial Day crash that killed 27-year-old James Markee to five years in prison at the end of that hearing, but the injuries to the Markee family will likely stay much longer.
“Because of a drunk driver, this is where we vacation – in a graveyard,” said April Markee, James Markee’s sister.
Judge M. Zent sentenced Dean Hazelett, 69, to six years in prison and ordered five of them to be served behind bars. He ordered Hazelett to serve the other year of probation, pay more than $11,000 in restitution, and banned him from driving for six years.
Hazelett turned in front of Markee, who was riding a motorcycle, at the intersection of Spring Street and Rumsey Avenue around 7:15 p.m. this Memorial Day nearly two years ago.
Investigators found Hazelett had a blood alcohol level of 0.13% – well above the 0.08 limit – and witnesses said he was responsible for the accident, according to court documents .
Hazelett admitted to drinking at a local strip club before the accident.
Allen County prosecutors initially charged him with causing death while driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated and reckless homicide, but dropped the drunk driving charge. drunk as part of a plea deal.
Markee did not die immediately from his injuries.
He was taken to a local hospital where April Markee was allowed to see him for just 10 minutes just to identify him. Due to COVID-19 concerns at the time, hospital visits were severely limited.
The family stood in the parking lot for hours.
He died a day later.
“I still remember the last day with him,” April Markee wrote in her letter. “Memorial Day 2020. We rode motorcycles, went shooting and swimming. I was a perfect day. And then I got a call. »
Hazelett apologized to the family and offered his condolences before being taken into custody.
This is his first criminal offense, which may have saved him from serving the six years.
“It’s very rare,” Zent told Hazelett. “Its important to me.”
But, Zent added, someone who drives drunk and ends up in court usually goes to jail.