A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing two people in a wrong-way DWI crash on Thanksgiving in 2017.
Deone E. Starr, 32, received the sentence in Platte County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 27 after pleading guilty on April 4 to driving while intoxicated, resulting in the deaths of Nelson Guzman-Cuellar and Normalina Erazo Chaconde-Perez.
“There is absolutely no reason anyone should ever die as a result of driving while intoxicated,” Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd said. “It is a completely preventable crime, which only requires people who have been drinking to decide not to get behind the wheel of a car.”
On Nov. 23, 2017, shortly after midnight, Starr’s Honda Pilot struck a Honda CRV occupied by Guzman-Cuellar and Chaconde-Perez, while Starr was traveling the wrong way on southbound Interstate 29 near NW Barry Road. Guzman-Cuellar and Chaconde-Perez were both pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
A Platte County deputy sheriff had spotted Starr’s vehicle traveling at approximately 100 miles per hour, weaving in and out of traffic, moments before the crash.
Following the crash, Starr was transported to a hospital, where a blood draw revealed his blood alcohol content to be .125.
Starr told detectives with the Kansas City Police Department that he had been drinking vodka during a Thanksgiving party at a friend’s house earlier that evening. He said he did not remember how the crash happened or how he ended up on I-29, as his normal path home was Interstate 470 to Highway 71 to Parvin Road.
“We have to send the message that there’s no excuse for driving while intoxicated in today’s world,” Zahnd said. “Call a friend; call a taxi or an Uber; sleep on your friend’s couch. But if you kill someone because you decide to get behind the wheel, you need to go to prison so we can protect everyone else driving safely on our roads.”
No members of the victims’ families were available to testify at the sentencing, but first assistant prosecuting attorney Mark Gibson argued for a lengthy prison term, asserting that granting probation would be a disservice to other victims of drunk driving crashes.
Despite a request from Starr’s attorney for probation, Judge James Van Amburg sentenced Starr to 10 years in prison.
The case was investigated by the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department with the assistance of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. It was was prosecuted by First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Gibson.