Verdigris Man To Continue Sentence For Deaths Of Man, Baby
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - Keaton Hannah is a 20-year-old man who's been behind bars for two years after he crashed into an SUV and killed Eric Watkins and his 7-month-old baby boy. On Monday, there was a review of his 20-year prison sentence.
Hannah's attorney asked the judge to let Hannah out on probation, but the judge said it was simply too soon. Everyone says Keaton Hannah is a really nice kid who has been very remorseful. They say Hannah made a terrible, one-time mistake and would be much more productive if he was out working, paying his fines and speaking to other kids about the dangers of drinking and driving.
The Watkins family, however, thinks the only place for Hannah is behind bars for a very, very long time.
Keaton Hannah was too young to be drinking, but on the night of June 7th, 2011, he was. Police say he had a minor fender bender, panicked, left the scene and headed the wrong way down Highway 66. He then crashed head on into another car.
This time, it wasn't minor. This time, he killed Eric Watkins and his 7-month-old son, Bryor.
Eric Watkins' wife, at age 21, instantly became a widow without a child.
Hannah pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and the judge gave him 20 years in prison - with a chance after one year, to have the case reviewed.
That year is up.
Hannah has been a model prisoner, had a job lined up, and is willing to enroll in whatever classes or counseling the court orders. Although he's agreed to have a DUI device put on his car and speak to groups about his mistakes, the Department of Corrections did not recommend probation, and the judge agreed.
Instead, the judge said he will review the case again next year.
"Oklahoma's legislature passed a new law passing the 12-month judicial review to 24 months and he feels like it's in the best interest of everyone that that happens," said Jack Gordon Jr., Hannah's attorney.
Watkins' family left the courtroom without commenting. In the past, Watkins' wife has said she hates Hannah for what he's taken from her and she doesn't think 20 years is long enough. It seems to her, that sentence sends the message that people can drink and drive and kill without paying a harsh price.
Hannah's family left the courtroom in tears. They believe justice is about more than just punishment, that is also about giving a person a chance to right their wrongs and become productive members of society - and that's what his attorney had argued.
"My kid's a nice kid. He's working hard. He'll do everything he can possibly do to make himself a better person, when in the joint and hopefully next year, the judge will see fit to let him go, let him do something productive," said attorney Jack Gordon Jr.
If the judge does not modify Hannah's sentence next year, that will be it. Hannah will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence, about 17 years, before being eligible for parole.
He'll be 36.