Christopher L. Royer, 24, will spend the next 10 years in state prison.
He appeared in Waupaca County Circuit Court before Judge John Hoffmann for sentencing on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Royer was responsible for killing a 75-year-old Waupaca man, Milton “Red” Barnhart, and Danielle Belanger, 21, Oshkosh, on Oct. 23, 2010.
After several hours of drinking beer and shots and smoking marijuana, Royer crashed his vehicle into an oncoming van driven by Barnhart on State Highway 54 east of Waupaca.
Belanger was a passenger in Royer’s vehicle. A second passenger, Jose F. Ortegon, then 21, Oshkosh, suffered a broken leg in the crash.
Royer was convicted Sept. 19 on two felony counts of negligent homicide with a vehicle, one count of causing injury with a dangerous weapon, and misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
While sentencing Royer, Hoffmann said he never refers to a an alcohol-related crash as an “accident.”
“An accident is unavoidable,” Hoffmann said. “A person makes decisions that cause a crash.”
Hoffmann said Royer’s guilty pleas acknowledged “that his conduct was criminal in nature and caused those deaths and injuries.”
Hoffmann noted Royer’s probation had been revoked three previous times, usually due to alcohol and marijuana.
Royer also admitted to the pre-sentencing investigator that he had continued drinking and smoking pot after he had been charged and convicted for the deaths of two people.
“He continues to consume alcoholic beverages, which legally he can do, and he continues to smoke marijuana, which legally he cannot do,” Hoffmann said. “That’s an indication that he does have rehabilitative needs that need to be addressed.”
Hoffmann said the gravity of the offense and protection of the public outweighed any consideration of Royer’s character.
This was the fourth time Hoffmann had “the opportunity or misfortune” to sentence a defendant for a double homicide involving an alcohol-related crash, the judge said.
Often, when a defendant is convicted of multiple crimes, the judge will order that the sentences for all the offenses are served concurrently.
In this case, Hoffmann said, “a concurrent sentence would place no value on the life of the other victim.”
Hoffmann sentenced Royer to four years in prison and four years of extended supervision for Belanger and the same for Barnhardt. He ordered that the sentences be served consecutively.
He also sentenced Royer to two more years in prison and two more years of extended supervision for causing Oregon’s injuries.
“No sentence I impose will in any way heal the aches they have for the rest of their lives,” Hoffmann said, regarding the victims’ families. “I can’t impose a sentence that will bring back anybody’s life.”