Romero family still simmering
CROWLEY - The family of Mitchell Romero, the Northside Chistian School graduate who was killed by drunk driver Tyson Dupuis in 2011, is still seething about the sentence handed down by Judge Edward Rubin last week.
Rubin sentenced Dupuis to 10 years in prison with five of them being suspended. Dupuis was facing a five to 30 years in prison. Rubin’s sentence essentially means that Dupuis will serve the minimum of five years in jail.
This combined with Dupuis’ prior record and the fact that his term will be served in the Acadia Parish Prison has Nick and Paula Romero searching the judicial system for a way to get Dupuis’ sentence overturned.
They acknowledge it will be an uphill battle.
“Judge Rubin said prior to sentencing Tyson that there were two victims here,” said Nick Romero. “That’s just not true. His family doesn’t even have to leave town to visit him. I also want to know whether Judge Rubin ever got to see Tyson’s entire record. He actually had two DWIs prior to the one he received for Mitchell’s death. I want to know if Rubin thought he was sentencing him for his second or third DWI.”
When it was looked up Monday, the Post-Signal found the following charges listed under the name Tyson Dupuis:
• August, 1997 - Battery of a police officer
• December, 2000 - Disturbing the peace/Intoxication
• August, 2002 - Aggravated battery with a deadly weapon
• August, 2003 - Operating a vehicle while intoxication
• March, 2009 - Resisting an officer
• January, 2011 - Domestic abuse/battery
• August, 2011 - OWI, reckless operation, hit and run
Mitchell died on August 14, 2011.
“His family and friends think we should leave it alone,” said Nick Romero. “Then in two, maybe, two and a half years he gets out on good behavior ... He isn’t doing his time.”
The Louisiana Supreme Court is awaiting papers from the Romeros complaining about the leniency of the verdict.
“If it’s not justifiable they will simply ignore it,” said Paula Romero. “If it’s justifiable they will call upon Rubin to explain. We didn’t get a shot at a fair sentence. I don’t think Rubin knew about Tyson’s entire record. When we asked District Attorney Mike Harson about his he said Tyson ‘fell through the cracks.’ Well, now we’ve got his record and put putty in those cracks. It’s time he was sentenced properly.”
When Dupuis was sentenced on July 15, the Romero family exploded with rage, charging across the courtroom towards Dupuis and his family. Their anger and pain was still evident Monday afternoon.
“When Tyson got his DWI in Abbeville he fell asleep at the wheel and hit another driver head on,” said Nick Romero. “If that wasn’t enough to get his attention I really don’t think this is going to be. The same thing is going to happen again unless he receives his proper sentence.They don’t even have rehab in the parish prison.”
The Romeros were comparing the sentence that Dupuis received with that which was handed down to Joshua Jackson, who killed a man in 2011 on Oddfellows Road when he was fleeing police. Jackson, who had three prior DWIs, killed Aaron Hamilton of Kaplan when he struck him from behind during the pursuit. It was Jackson’s fourth DWI. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
“I’m going to contact the NAACP and see if there was a racial issue with Tyson’s sentencing,” said Nick Romero.
Jackson is black.
“I think that Tyson was being sentenced based on that one vehicular homicide,” said Paula Romero. “There is no way that a judge with Rubin’s prior criminal experience would ever sentence someone with Tyson’s record to only five years.”
Nick Romero wanted to pose a question to Judge Rubin.
“I would like to ask Judge Rubin, as a father, if his child was killed by a drunk driver who was going nearly 100 miles per hour with his third DWI and a prior history like Tyson’s ... how many years would he expect another judge to hand down to the person who killed his child?”
He also stated that he wouldn’t have been nearly as angry with Dupuis if he had ever apologized or had gone to check on his daughter following the accident.
“Tyson did neither of these things,” said Nick Romero. “He ran like a scalded dog. If he had just gone to check on her rather than run off like that I would’ve maybe been able find some compassion for him.
“Mitchell was being the designated driver that night. She was out helping her friends that night. She was such a nice person that if she had survived the accident and Tyson would have called her for a ride ... even after all this, she still would have gone and got him. That’s the type of person that Tyson Dupuis killed.”