February 27, 2012
A Colorado Springs man with a history of drunken-driving arrests was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday in a cyclist's hit-and-run death.
The father of the victim, William Byas Jr., questioned whether the penalty was stiff enough for Mark L. Doutt, who pleaded guilty two months ago to leaving the scene of a deadly accident.
"Even if you hit an animal, you would set up and call the animal shelter," William Byas Sr. told the court before the sentencing, referring to Doutt's claim that he drifted off behind the wheel and believed he had hit an animal.
Prosecutors initially accused Doutt, 50, of driving under the influence at the time of the June 25 crash.
They dropped the allegation under a January plea bargain, however, saying that without blood alcohol tests, they couldn't prove it.
Byas, 44, was hit from behind early June 25 while pedaling home from Popeye's, the fast food chain where he had just finished up on the night shift. He was hit at South Circle and Verde drives in Colorado Springs.
Doutt was arrested about noon the next day, after getting the windshield of his 1988 Buick fixed. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a deadly accident, and prosecutors agreed to drop other counts, including vehicular homicide.
Doutt's previous arrests for DUI were in 1987 and 2006. In each case, he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired, a lesser charge.
Prosecutor Beth Reed said Doutt's leaving after the crash prevented investigators from testing his blood, leaving the prosecution with disputed witness testimony about how much he drank at a downtown bar and restaurant.
A waitress and bartender told investigators for the public defender's office that Doutt ordered two margaritas and left the second drink half-finished on his table when he left for the night.
Reed told Judge Thomas K. Kane the sentence is appropriate – and said afterward that she didn't believe going to trial would have resulted in harsher penalties.
After sentencing, Byas Sr. said his son was a 12-year Army veteran who was big on fitness and enjoyed bicycling. He was also a father of three.
Kane approved the plea bargain after noting the prosecution's concerns about the strength of their case.
Doutt's attorney, public defender Dennis McGuire, said that Doutt stopped his car after the crash and looked around for evidence of an animal but didn't see anything.
In a handwritten note submitted to the court, Doutt expressed remorse and said he would change places with Byas if possible.