The drunk driver who killed 19-year-old Jacob Rauguth was sentenced to 7-20 years in prison by Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Archie Brown Wednesday afternoon.
Matthew Albert Stoy was sentenced 7 to 20 years for operating with a high blood alcohol content causing death, with a prior conviction, and 6-10 years for operating with a high blood alcohol content causing serious injury with a prior conviction. The sentences run concurrently.
He will be credited for 214 days time already served. He was also fined $2,500 and has to pay fees and court costs. Stoy’s defense attorney and the prosecutor’s office struck a plea deal that established sentencing guidelines to which Judge Brown agreed.
Rauguth was a 2015 graduate of Saline High School. He began studies at Washtenaw Community College in hopes of becoming a nurse, but had taken a break from school and begun planning a new career path. Rauguth, who loved skateboarding, music and video games, was known for his friendly, caring and laid-back demeanor.
On July 2, 2017, Rauguth was driving with his girlfriend, Molly O’Sullivan, and friend, Ethan Suydam, on Bemis Road. The threesome worked together at Brecon Village, where Rauguth had just finished a shift. O’Sullivan and Suydam were on a break and they were all headed to a local park to enjoy a hot summer day.
Stoy, 25, a decorated war veteran who served three tours of duty and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was driving on Moon Road. He’d been drinking vodka at home that day. At around 2:15 p.m., Stoy sped through the stop sign like it wasn’t there and t-boned Rauguth’s vehicle. Rauguth was killed. O’Sullivan and Suydam were transported to hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Stoy, whose blood-alcohol content was more than four times the legal limit, barely knew what happened, according to his attorney Joseph Simon. The veteran, previously convicted of drunk driving in the state of New York, did seem to know his alcoholism had caused more pain.
“It was alcohol, wasn’t it?”Stoy said to police, according to Simon.
Judge Brown’s courtroom was full for Stoy’s sentencing hearing.
Rauguth’s loved ones, braced for lighter sentence, spoke of their disappointment in the legal system’s leniency during powerful impact statements delivered prior to sentencing.
Jacob’s parents, Darin and Lisa, sat next to Jacob’s younger brother, Joseph. Beside the Rauguths sat O’Sullivan and her parents.
Lisa Rauguth, with her husband at her side, was the first to present an impact statement. Her statement swerved between sorrow and anger as she spoke of her family’s devastation.
“Our hearts are literally broken. We are hollow. You have destroyed our lives. We know what hell feels like because you put us through it,” Rauguth told Stoy.
She said Stoy was a grown man who, because of his past drunk driving charges, should have understood the choice he made to drive that day.
‘That choice cost us our son. You killed our son. There are no words to describe our struggle,” she said.
Rauguth said she misses her son “every minute of every day.”
“He was so special, beautiful and funny,” she said.
Jacob was kind and thoughtful she said. In middle school, he spoke of wanting to have a friend of every race and religion.
“I don’t know of another child who would say something like that. He never judged people by their looks, or how much money they had, or how popular they were,” she said.
At Brecon Village, where he worked with the elderly, he brightened days of residents with hugs. And when a 97-year-old stopped eating, he’d work with them to make sure to see they ate at least something small.
“He wasn’t one for grand gestures, but small ones,” she said.
During her emotional statement, Lisa Rauguth vehemently disagreed with the recommended sentence.
“I wish you’d spend the rest of your natural life in prison,” she said. “My son will not come home again. You will go home one day. But I hope it’s not for a very, very long time.”
Molly O’Sullivan, Rauguth’s girlfriend, suffered a shattered collarbone, broken jaw, gash on her face and other injuries during the crash. But her injuries do not compare with the loss she feels, over and over again. She said she relives the feeling of loss everytime she sees his favorite coffee mug or hears their favorite song on the radio.
“We were two pieces of the same puzzle,” she said.
She said she aspired to live like Rauguth - to love fearlessly and dream constantly. But, she said, “my life is in shambles.”
On the day of the crash, Rauguth, Suydam and O’Sullivan were on their way to the park. The last thing she remembers was telling Rauguth how much she liked the tiger lillies on the side of the road. She asked him the Japanese word for tiger lily.
She woke up in the emergency room. She thought they were washing her hair with shampoo, but they were rinsing Rauguth’s blood from her hair. She asked where Jacob was. Emergency room staff told her he was at another hospital - but they were shielding her from the painful truth. Later, with tears in his eyes, O’Sullivan’s father told her Jacob died in the crash. O’Sullivan told the court she screamed in anguish.
According to the defense attorney, Stoy was from a family with no history of criminality or alcoholism. Stoy was studying at Kent State University when terrorists attacked America on 9/11. Stoy dropped out of college and volunteered for the United States Marine Corps. He did three tours, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He saw combat action on two of the tours and was highly decorated, receiving the Silver Star.
But when he came back, he wasn’t the same person, Simon said. He suffered from nightmares, anger and depression. Simon said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and moral injury. He began drinking secretly, Simon said. It wasn’t until his drunk driving arrest in New York that his family even knew he was drinking, Simon said.
Since then, he’d been in and out of treatment programs.
Only days before the crash, after a relapse, he’d enrolled himself in a rehab program at the VA in Battle Creek. Simon said the program lacked bed space for a long-term stay.
Stoy addressed the court and the families. He briefly glanced at the families before speaking.
“I want to say I apologize, sincerely. I know you may never forgive me. I may never comprehend the pain I’ve put you through,” Stoy said. “I pray that all of you find peace.”
Stoy said he was a “broken version” of himself.
“I’m ashamed of the pain and destruction I’ve caused,” Stoy said. “I will serve my sentence with a sense of duty and will one day have a positive impact on society again.”
Rauguth’s loved ones were not ready to forgive Wednesday.
“I can never forgive what you did. I know in my heart that Jacob has forgiven you. But I am more stubborn,” O’Sullivan told Stoy. “The worst part is that you’ll get as long in prison as Jacob lived on this earth, which, thanks to you, wasn’t very long.”