The First District Court of Appeals has ordered Okaloosa County Circuit Judge John Brown to resentence Joseph Patrick Schumacher and impose a four-year prison term for DUI manslaughter.
The court called Brown’s sentence of two years of house arrest sanctions followed by eight years of parole “illegal.”
“The sentence is illegal because it does not include a minimum mandatory prison sentence of four years,” the ruling states. “The legislative language is unambiguous.”
Schumacher was arrested Dec. 17, 2009, and charged with DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. He was accused of driving his Ford Explorer down a residential street in a drunken stupor and dragging his Alzheimer’s patient father, whose foot had become entangled in a seat belt.
Stephen Schumacher, 67, died from his injuries.
Joseph Schumacher was found guilty of DUI manslaughter, but not of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
Brown departed from the state-mandated sentencing guidelines based on his findings that the crime committed was unsophisticated.
Joseph Schumacher, whose testimony indicated clearly that he loved his father, had shown remorse, Brown ruled.
Brown also said the need for restitution outweighed the need for prison. He found that Schumacher did not have “moral culpability” because he never intended for his father to die.
The state attorney’s office appealed the April 25, 2011, ruling. It was thrown out Wednesday.
Angela Mason, who tried Schumacher and argued for the four-year minimum mandatory prison term at the sentencing hearing, said no resentencing date has been scheduled.
“We argued the law requires a four-year minimum mandatory prison term,” Mason said. “We’re pleased the District Court of Appeals agreed.”
Schumacher’s attorney, Don Dewrell, has 30 days to seek a rehearing, Mason said.
Dewrell did not return a phone call to his office Wednesday afternoon.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Tom McLaughlin at 850-315-4435 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMnwfdn.