News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 26, 2013

Jury: Ley guilty on all charges

TERRE HAUTE — The jury in the case of Travis A. Ley, accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal crash, Friday returned a verdict of guilty on all charges. Deliberations began shortly before 1 p.m. and concluded about 3:30 p.m.

Ley was being tried in Vigo County Superior Court Division 5 in relation to a May 22, 2012, crash in which motorcycle rider Leylahnd Owens of Terre Haute died and another motorcyclist,  Jacob T. Quinn was injured.

Ley was charged with four felonies stemming from the accident that occurred when a vehicle he was driving and two motorcycles collided at 17th and Hulman streets.

Judge Michael Rader scheduled sentencing of Ley for Dec. 2 at 1:30 p.m.

“I still lost my son, just over a mistake. We will just have to move on from here and make the best of what we got,” Wesley K. Owens, father of Leylahnd Owens, said shortly after the jury’s decision.

“You can’t really say justice was served. It was for the most part, but with the way the laws are in our state, those kind of accidents don’t carry a lot of time. You can never give anybody the time you think they should get when you lose a loved one or anything like that,” Owens said.

“You try to get a little bit out of it. Hopefully he’ll [Ley] learn that if you are going to drink, stay at home. Don’t go jumping in your car to get something to eat and drink some more. Hopefully he [Ley] learns something and matures from it and it doesn’t happen again,” Owens said.

The father said he was not surprised by the jury’s decision.

“I was pretty confident that [guilty] would be the verdict because the prosecution did a really good job. It still doesn’t change a lot of things. My son is still gone and we are still dealing with that,” Owens said.

Owens said the jury’s decision helped “a little bit, but not a lot. You still lose a loved one. Everyone says it should help. You just go day by day.”

Ann O’Brien, mother of Ley, declined comment after the jury’s decision. Judge Rader held all in attendance inside the courtroom until Ley was escorted out of the courtroom by police and the jury had left the Vigo County Courthouse.

John Fierek, a defense attorney for Ley, said Ley will appeal all four charges to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

“Obviously disappointed,” Fierek said of the ruling. “We understand the verdict, respect the verdict. The state had a lot of evidence. They had a good case, but we put a lot of time into the case, a lot of effort into the case and got to know Travis, so clearly disappointed for him and the family, but hopefully this brings closure to the Owens and to Mr. Quinn,” Fierek said.

Fierek said in other cities he had tried cases, police have special teams to respond.

“The way I see these types of accidents take place, usually there is a fatal alcohol crash team that gets deployed right away where there is an accident reconstructionist, there is a prosecutor on the scene and are individuals who do nothing but DUIs. I understand Vigo County and Terre Haute Police Department may not have a fact team in place, but they now have a reconstructionist” on the city police department, Fierek said, something not available in May, 2012.

The charges Ley was convicted of are:

n causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood (class-B felony), which carries a penalty of between six and 20 years in prison, with an advisory sentence of 10 years;

n operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury (class-C felony), which a penalty of two to eight years in prison, with an advisory sentence of four years ;

n causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (class-D felony); and

n causing serious bodily injury when operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood (class-D felony), both of which carry a penalty of six months to three years in prison, with an advisory sentence of 1 1⁄2 years.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204.

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