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Man who pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter sentenced to prison again –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Kevin Coffay, the Rockville man who pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of fleeing the scene of a fatal crash following an incident that took the lives of three local teens who were passengers in the car he was driving in May 2011, will go back to prison.

On Feb. 3, Coffay was sentenced to seven years in jail for violating his probation.

The sentence will be served consecutively to the two years and 60 days he received in District Court last fall for traffic violations.

“I am grateful for the sentence, but sad for the families who still remain traumatized for the loss of their children,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. “Three families lost three pretty special kids.”

While on parole, Coffay attempted to start a vehicle 78 times with alcohol in his system, according to court records. He also removed the required interlock device from his vehicle, drove at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. when he was restricted to driving to work and school, and drove without a license or insurance.

Attempts to reach Coffay’s attorney, Steve Chaikin, were unsuccessful by press time.

In a comment before the Feb. 3 Circuit Court proceeding, Chaikin had said his client has “extreme remorse” and was “hoping for a sentence that will understandably include punishment and hoping for significant rehabilitation.”

Reaction to the sentence is twofold — a sense of relief that justice has been served, along with the worry that the vicious cycle may not be over.

“Today has been a good day,” John McGuire, father of Haeley McGuire, one of the three teens who died in the crash, said on the day of the sentencing. “I came out feeling a thousand percent better than at any of the other cases we’ve had.”

The initial sentence imposed on Jan. 5, 2012, was 40 years, with 20 years suspended.
On April 20, 2012, a three-judge review panel changed the sentence to 15 years, suspending all but eight years to be served.
Coffay was ordered to serve five years of probation when released.
He was paroled from prison on March 16, 2016.

“That’s four years out of 40 for killing three people and then running for three hours,” John McGuire said before the violation of probation hearing on Feb. 3.

McGuire said the situation is back to square one.

“He would still be in jail and we wouldn’t have been there today if he had served his original sentence,” he said. “Luckily, no one died this time.”

McGuire said prosecutors described the crash as “the worst drunk driving event that Montgomery County has ever had.”

McCarthy was pleased with the sentence — the maximum allowed, with no parole — but expressed sadness for the families of the victims and Coffay.

“I am sad for the victims’ families who were forced to be back in court yet again, reliving the worst thing that has ever happened to them,” he said.

Elisa McGuire, Haley’s mother, was also sympathetic.

“I feel relieved, but for the safety of the community he needed to be off the road,” she said.

McGuire praised Montgomery County Circuit Judge Jeannie Cho for being well versed on the facts and history of the case, saying “it was almost like she was looking at the case through our eyes.”

McCarthy added, “The court recognized appropriately that parole offered no protection for the community.”

McCarthy said Coffay has the right to request a three-judge panel review again.

“I hope any attempt to reduce his sentence will fall on deaf ears,” he said. “Unfortunately, the families may be dragged back into court again”

He said that is a problem with the Maryland court system — “total lack of finality” on any sentence.

“Victims’ families are forced time and time again to back to court,” he said. “I think this case is a perfect example of that.”

Haeley McGuire, 18, Spencer Datt, also 18, and Johnny Hoover, 20, died on May 15, 2011, while riding in a car driven by Coffay, then 20, that crashed into a tree off the side of Olney-Laytonsville Road (Route 108), west of Olney.
The description of the crash scene was grisly, according to court documents.
One passenger survived.
Montgomery County Police say Coffay left the scene of the crash and was arrested at his home several hours later.
Court documents show that a blood sample, taken from Coffay three and a half hours after the crash, showed a blood alcohol content of .16. A driver can be cited at .08.

After he was paroled, Coffay was required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle in order to drive.
An ignition interlock device connects a motor vehicle’s ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures a driver’s breath alcohol concentration. If the device detects alcohol above the set limit, it will not allow the vehicle to start.
Last year, on Sept. 9, Coffay was stopped for a traffic violation. He was charged with knowingly driving an uninsured vehicle, driving a vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock as required, driving a motor vehicle on the highway without required license and authorization, person driving motor vehicle on highway or public use property on suspended license and privilege, and failure of an individual driving on a highway to display license to uniformed police on demand.
On Oct. 28, he was sentenced to two years and 60 days in jail for the traffic offenses.

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