Drunk driver who killed PLNU student, gets 11 years in prison
Published - 11/07/16 - 04:09 PM | 2301 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A drunk driver was sentenced Nov. 4 to 11 years and eight months in state prison for killing a Point Loma Nazarene University graduate and injuring three others.

Roy Thomas Dunkin, 51, didn’t say anything during the 2 ½ hour sentencing in which he received the maximum penalty in the Aug. 20 death of Lucas Makana Riley, 24, by San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren.

All 44 courtroom seats were filled and there was an overflow crowd outside with the media sitting in the jury box. Most of the audience was composed of the parents, siblings, fiancée, and friends of Riley, a sculptor, of San Diego.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Dunkin’s blood/alcohol level was .14, which is nearly twice the legal limit. The judge noted Dunkin ran a red light shortly before his Chevrolet GMC pickup truck struck another car on state Route 67 after 7 p.m. The other car spun around before the truck collided with the Mini Cooper Riley was driving.

The Mini Cooper exploded and Riley burned to death in his car. His family noted that dental records were used to identify him because he was burned beyond recognition.

Halgren ordered Dunkin to pay $26,000 in restitution to the victim’s family and to the other injured motorists. Dunkin received credit for 76 days in jail and was fined $1,294.

“He made the decision to drink and drive,” said Halgren.

Dunkin pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol with injury to three others on Sept. 2. He has no prior record.

Shawna Wickwire, Riley’s fiancée and a PLNU graduate, said she went from “the happiest time of her life” while engaged and then experienced “heartbreak beyond belief” when he was killed. She recalled the difficult phone call she made to his parents in Hawaii to inform them Riley was dead.

“I lost the love of my life, my best friend,” said Wickwire. “There’s a permanent void…I hope this is an example of why we should not drink and drive.”

Riley’s sister, Lauren Riley, said her brother’s death was “the greatest sorrow I have ever known.” His brother, Cory Riley, said “it has changed all of us.”

PLNU Professor David Adey said “he was truly one of our best” and he hired Lucas Riley to work on a public art project for the County of San Diego in Little Italy. Adey said a memorial for Riley was moved to the Point Loma campus near the art department.

“Mr. Dunkin, you took the life of our son,” said Tami Riley, his mother, who added that Lucas would have given him the last life jacket in a sinking boat.

“I don’t have hatred in my heart. Hate takes you down the road to bitterness and hopelessness,” said Tami Riley.

“We have forgiven you, Mr. Dunkin,” said Mark Riley, his father. “Let this be a turning point in your life, Mr. Dunkin…with an ability to start over.”

Dunkin’s daughter, Nicole Dunkin, told the judge her father started drinking after his 26-year-old son committed suicide in Jan., 2014. “My father is so incredibly remorseful. He hates what he has done. I know he will never forgive himself,” she added.

“He turned to alcohol to cope with the pain. He was completely grief stricken,” said Dunkin’s attorney, Suesan Gerard.

After Riley’s parents told Dunkin they had forgiven him, Gerard told them and the other speakers “you show the best of humanity.”

“He blames no one else. He is wholly sorry,” said Gerard. “He is going to have to live with himself.”

Afterwards, Mark Riley told this to reporters: “We hope and pray this man’s future is different from his past. We’re not out for vengeance. We’ve forgiven the man.”

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