Defendant in drunk-driving death case refuses to sign plea agreement

2014-02-27T18:45:00Z 2014-03-20T19:25:08Z Defendant in drunk-driving death case refuses to sign plea agreementLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 27, 2014 6:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Michael Temores, charged in the drunk driving death of a Lansing man in December 2011, refused to sign a plea agreement Thursday hammered out between Lake County prosecutors and his defense attorney, Jack Friedlander.

Temores, 26, of Munster, faces 19 felony charges, including the most serious B felony charge of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.15 percent, in the death of Fred Skafgaard, of Lansing, on Dec. 30, 2011.

Skafgaard, a 61-year-old grandfather, died in a car accident near the intersection of Ridge Road and Hohman Avenue when his GMC pickup truck was slammed by a Cadillac truck driven by Temores, police said in the probable cause affidavit.

Before the crash, Temores, then 24, had been at the grand opening of the Hammond club AquaVor, 5260 Hohman Ave., according to the affidavit.

The plea agreement would have had Temores plead guilty to the felony B charge of operating a motor vehicle with a certain blood alcohol level with a sentence cap of 14 years.

However, Temores wanted the charge reduced to a C felony and believes the original deal with prosecutors called for a sentence cap of 13 years, Friedlander said.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sabrina Haney told the judge reducing the charge was never a possibility and that Temores could not go into the Lake County work-release program within the first six years.

“The victim’s family has grown very impatient with this proceeding,” Haney said. “The family needs closure. They can’t do this any longer.”

Six members of Skafgaard’s family were present during the court session Thursday. Various members of Temores’ family sat on the opposite side of the courtroom.

Murray told Temores he couldn’t sentence him to more than the advisory cap offered in the plea agreement. Indiana law stipulates that a class B felony sentence is between six and 20 years. That’s the sentence range Temores will face if the case goes to trial, the judge said.

“We will set this case for trial in July if the parties can’t agree,” said Murray, giving prosecutors, Friedlander and Temores until March 14 to reach a resolution. “This case is very long of tooth and needs to be resolved.”

Before these latest charges, Temores had a record of about 100 traffic-related charges beginning in 2003, when he was 16 years old.

Court records show those counts are added to more than 100 driving violations, many of which were dismissed over the years. Those violations include speeding, driving while suspended, driving without a seat belt or insurance, disregarding stop signs and watching television while driving.

More serious charges include two operating while intoxicated counts, one of which was pleaded down to reckless driving, and the other reduced to a misdemeanor.

At the time of the December 2011 accident that killed Skafgaard, Temores was driving on a 180-day restricted license that limited his driving only to and from work.

The defendant appeared before Judge Murray in Lake County Jail inmate garb and shackled.

Temores has been held without bond at the Lake County Jail after Murray rejected two pleas last November and December from the defendant to reinstate a jail bond. Murray had released Temores on bond last March with a strict admonishment not to drive.

Munster Police reported seeing Temores drive after that order was given and he was taken back into custody.

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