After about a week in trial facing a felony DUI charge, a Charleston man decided to plead guilty to reckless homicide and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Stanley Scott Geer, 45, of Ashley Garden Boulevard, pleaded guilty in connection to a 2010 collision in West Ashley that killed a 23-year-man driving a mo-ped.
On Tuesday afternoon in a downtown Charleston court room, Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson sentenced Stanley Scott Geer, 45, of Ashley Garden Boulevard, to 10 years, but suspended that sentence down to three years with five years of probation.
Geer was accused of being drunk while driving a Ford Explorer that struck Christopher McRae Torella on Nov. 12, 2010, on Glenn McConnell Parkway near Bees Ferry Road. Torella died of blunt force injuries.
Geer, a computer network engineer, apologized to Torella’s family during the hearing. “I’m responsible for an accident that’s had such a tragic effect on so many people’s lives,” he told the judge. “I’m so very sorry for what I did.”
Geer did not have a prior criminal record, but prosecutors said his blood alcohol concentration was .122. Authorities said he ran up a $121 bar tab on the night of the fatal crash.
But during the sentencing hearing Geer’s attorney, Diedreich von Lehe, told the judge the bill was for three different people and that Geer had consumed about 3½ drinks while out with some of his coworkers.
“He’s a guy who had a couple of drinks and headed home,” von Lehe said.
Following the hearing, Torella’s mother, Susan Wagenbrenner, 53, said von Lehe’s comments were “kind of uncalled for.” She also said she was surprised by the amount of time Geer was given, but still believes justice was served.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” she said.
During the hearing, Wagenbrenner told the judge about the trauma she and her family have experienced due to their loss. “Getting out of bed in the morning is a chore,” she said in court.
Torella grew up on James Island, attended the Barbizon Modeling and Acting Center and was interested in body building, his mother said.
“There were so many things he could have done and didn’t have the chance to do,” she said.
Torella was driving his mo-ped, picking up a friend the night of the crash, according to 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Meg Sprinkle, who prosecuted the case with Asst. Solicitor Culver Kidd.
During his statements to the judge, von Lehe said Geer is undergoing counseling and still “grieves over what happened in this case.”
“The events of that night have haunted him,” he said.
As part of his sentence, Geer will also get credit for the 17 days he spent in jail before he was placed on house arrest, which he’s been under since the crash.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.