Schmaltz sentenced to prison for manslaughter

A 22 year old Minatare man convicted of manslaughter in the death of a Gering man in a rollover accident last July has been sentenced to two to three years in prison. Scotts Bluff County District Judge Randy Lippstreu sentenced Drew Schmaltz for the death of 21 year old Taylor Magdaleno before a packed courtroom of family and friends.

Lippstreu said Schmaltz, who had a previous drunk driving conviction when he was 18, should have seen the "reasonable foreseeable consequence" to driving drunk in a pickup loaded with friends on a county road. Four other passengers were injured, but were eventually treated and released from Regional West Medical Center. A fifth passenger was not injured.

Lippstreu noted Schmaltz's blood alcohol content was .182, well over the legal limit. Lippstreu said he reviewed four other local cases involving teens, drunk driving and a death and noted there was only one of them, involving a 16 year old in juvenile court, that received probation. He said to sentence Schmaltz to probation would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.

Schmaltz told the court "it has been the toughest time of his life." after losing his best friend and going to prison for evaluations. He said it "has opened my eyes not to take life for granted." He then turned to the those in the courtroom and said he was "sorry for all the pain, hurt and suffering" and thanked them for "the support, love and mercy shown me."

Defense attorney Andy Snyder pleaded for probation, maintaining Schmaltz was not someone who needed to be protected from society and had begun a non-alcohol lifestyle, said he was not surprised by the sentence given the four cases noted by Lippstreu. Snyder said Schmaltz was ready to accept responsibility for his actions, was remorseful, and would come out of prison a person ready to lead a "productive life".

Scotts Bluff County Attorney Doug Warner said Schmaltz should have known the danger and consequences of driving drunk on a county road at night after a previous drunk driving conviction. Warner said when Schmaltz did not learn lessons about the consequences the first time, it "raises concern about safety".

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