Valparaiso man gets 14 years in DUI death

2012-11-09T17:30:00Z 2012-11-11T02:03:08Z Valparaiso man gets 14 years in DUI deathSusan Brown (219) 662-5325
November 09, 2012 5:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | A Valparaiso man found guilty in the death of a road service worker killed while fixing a tire on I-65 was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison.

A Lake County jury in September deliberated for about two hours before convicting Jeffery Cleary, 66, on two felony and three misdemeanor drunken driving charges in the 2010 death of Philip Amsden, 63. Cleary also was found liable on two traffic infractions.

He faced a maximum of 20 years in connection with the criminal counts. The infractions carry fines and court costs.

Amsden, an employee of Boss Truck Stop in Gary, was fixing a flat tire on a semitrailer parked on the shoulder of Interstate 65 south of Ridge Road when Cleary's SUV struck Amsden's pickup, crushing Amsden between his vehicle and the semitrailer.

The jury's verdict came on the ninth day of Cleary's retrial. A jury in December deadlocked 11-1 on the three most serious of seven counts, finding him guilty or liable on the remaining offenses.

Cleary's sentence Friday came in the wake of a sentencing hearing that lasted several hours, with family and other supporters spilling into the hallway outside the courtroom of Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr.

Testimony included emotional remarks by Amsden's widow about the loss to her and the couple's children and grandchildren. Also testifying was a son-in-law of Amsden who spoke to the financial devastation visited on Amsden's wife and his own personal loss of a man who was a fixture in his daily life.

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