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Tulsa Judge Reduces Drunk Driver's Prison Sentence

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Richard Brown was 47 years old when a drunk driver ended his life. Richard Brown was 47 years old when a drunk driver ended his life.
A jury found Gregory Bushyhead guilty of first degree manslaughter and gave him 14 years. They gave him another nine years on top of that for leaving the scene. Less than a year later, that same judge has suspended that nine years. A jury found Gregory Bushyhead guilty of first degree manslaughter and gave him 14 years. They gave him another nine years on top of that for leaving the scene. Less than a year later, that same judge has suspended that nine years.

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa family is devastated after a judge reduced a prison sentence for a drunk driver who killed their relative, then ran from the wreckage.

Richard Brown was a passenger in a car in March of 2007 when a driver, with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, ran a red light and slammed into that car. Brown was dead and the driver took off running, and then lied to police when he was caught.

Richard Brown was 47-years-old when the drunk driver ended his life.

Gregory Bushyhead went to trial 18 months later, and a jury found him guilty of first degree manslaughter and gave him 14 years. They gave him another nine years on top of that for leaving the scene.

The Tulsa County District Court judge agreed and sent him to prison for 23 years.

But less than a year later, that same judge has suspended that nine years, which means he'll serve it on probation, not behind bars.

"I'm very angry at this justice system and how long we had to wait to go through the justice system and where are we now? We are with a situation where nine years got, with the blink of an eye, gone," said Louan Torres, Richard's sister.

Bushyhead must serve 85% of his 14-year sentence before being eligible for parole, which is nearly 12 years.

Read Oklahoma Department Of Corrections Report

The family feels to go from 23 years to 12 years in less than a year's time shows the courts don't take drunk driving seriously enough.

"That car becomes a weapon. The car was a weapon. It was used like a gun, like a bullet, when it impaled the side of the car my brother was a passenger in and killed him," said Louan Torres.

The Department of Corrections wanted the judge to be even more lenient, saying Bushyhead has completed a life skills program and has obtained outstanding work evaluations.

None of that matters to Brown's family as much as the fact that their loved one has been gone for 956 days.

"It was my brother that was killed. My brother who is gone, who is never coming back," said Louan Torres.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections report does indicate Bushyhead has not yet had any alcohol treatment, but recommended he get an evaluation when he is released.

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