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Octogenarian Gets 2 Years in Jail for Morgan Hill Manslaughter

Mandatory 18-month jail time will also be followed by six months of supervision by Parole Department, family of victim asks for longer sentence.

Los Gatos resident Dick Chappell, 84, was sentenced this month to two years in County Jail after pleading guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter in the Oct. 23, 2011 death of a San Jose man riding his Segway at a downtown Morgan Hill crosswalk.

He will have to serve 18 months of his jail term and then undergo six months of mandatory supervision by the Probation Department, said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Steve Lowney.

The sentencing took place on Sept. 17 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill during a trial presided by Superior Court Judge Edward Lee. He was represented by attorney Jaime Leanos, who has not returned several calls seeking comment.

Remaining silent during sentencing, the family of Marschelle Syverson, 72, of San Jose, the victim, spoke before the judge and those in the courtroom who wanted a lengthier jail sentence for Chappell.

They spoke at length about Syverson and his life and the severe impact the tragic death had caused them, both financially and emotionally, Lowney said.

The accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and Jarvis Drive, in Morgan Hill.

Chappell, driving a 1991 Lexus SUV, apparently ran the red light and struck Syverson while he was in the crosswalk riding the Segway, Lowney said.

Syverson was transported to San Jose Regional Medical Center and later succumbed to his injuries.

Chappell was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol and was arrested and booked on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony DUI.

Syverson had worked at IBM and owned a high-tech business in Morgan Hill.

"It's a very difficult case. It's nearly impossible to come to a just result, but I thought the judge did a good job," Lowney said.

julie September 28, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Two years for killing someone while under the influence?!? How is that justice? Wonder how much his lawyer cost. It always comes down to whoever has the deepest pockets. :(

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