Rubin's sentence enrages Romero family

CROWLEY - The family and friends of Mitchell Romero came to the courtroom with a strong display of unity Monday afternoon. They came to the sentencing of Tyson Dupuis, the man who pled guilty to vehicular homicide in her death in 2011, wearing buttons with her picture on them and holding up baby pictures of her.

When Judge Edward Rubin handed down the light sentence of 10 year with five suspended — or five years in the Acadia Parish Jail — the group was united in anger.

In a highly emotional scene. Nicholas Romero, Mitchelle’s father, charged across the courtroom towards the Dupuis family shouting that “I should have killed him myself.”

Paula Romero, the victim’s mother screamed “My daughter was worth more than five years” towards Judge Rubin as he exited the courtroom.

Family members continued to vent their anger for several minutes in front of the Acadia Parish Courthouse following the sentencing.

Dupuis was being sentenced for the Aug. 12, 2011, death of Mitchelle Romero. Dupuis, who was drunk at the time of the accident which killed Romero, listened to a very strong victim impact statement from Heather Thibodeaux of Rayne, who called Dupuis a “murderer.”

“I use the term murderer because when you got behind the wheel of your 5,000-pound weapon after you were drinking, you made a premeditated choice,” said Thibodeaux. “If my kids had been in that car you would not be sitting here today. I would have gladly served a life sentence to make sure you received the proper punishment.”

Thibodeaux listed several other previous charges — aside from the second-offense DWI charge he received for the crash which killed Romero — filed against Dupuis while she gave her statement. Among them were a charge of battery on a police officer and an assault charge. She obviously had been keeping close eye on his Facebook account as she read back a statement she said he “posted 12 hours ago that he’d be out one day” and how he had been “drinking with his buds.”

Unfortunately for the Romero family, that day will be much sooner than they had hoped.

“I want this judge’s name sent to as many media outlets as possible to let people know how soft he is on people like Tyson,” shouted Nicholas Romero outside the courthouse. “I don’t know who he knows or what happened before the sentencing, but my daughter will have her justice one day.”

Immediately after the sentence was handed down, a visibly upset Assistant District Attorney Roger Hamilton objected that the sentence was “illegally lenient.” While Hamilton acknowledged that sentences are rarely subject to appeal, he stated that he was glad to be on record in the event that it is (appealed).

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was in the courtroom, passing out handkerchiefs to the Romero family prior to the sentencing and venting their frustration towards the punishment afterward.

“With his criminal past, 10 years is a joke,” said Brenda Sinclair, a victim’s advocate for MADD. “And to suspend five of them and have him serve in the parish prison is a travesty. This is not the signal we need to send out to the public.”

Acadia Parish Today

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