SALEM, Ore. -- Almost two years have passed since 36-year-old Travis Lane was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking home in North Salem late one night.
On Wednesday, the driver of the vehicle, 37-year-old Kimberly Malm, who was originally charged with manslaughter, was sentenced to three years probation after she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of failing to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person and DUI.
Lane's friends and family filled the courtroom at Malm's sentencing.
Several spoke before Judge Courtland Geyer delivered his sentence. They described Lane as a caring, "full of life" born-again Christian, poet, volunteer and writer.
Lane was walking home after watching a movie with a friend when he was hit by Malm's vehicle. Malm called 911 several hours after the crash and told the dispatcher she thought she might have hit something.
She was originally charged with second-degree manslaughter, failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons, driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless driving. A year later, charges of first-degree manslaughter, failure to perform the duties of a driver and vehicular assault of a pedestrian were added.
Her attorney Jason Thompson said Lane's death may have been suicide. The accident reconstruction by seasoned investigators put Lane in Malm's lane of travel at the time of the crash, and Thompson said they found something resembling a suicide note written by Lane in his belongings.
Lane's friend Tim Hammond, who described Lane as being like family to him, said the rumors of suicide started by the defense were hurtful and false.
The alleged suicide note was actually one of the many poems Lane would write about God, the afterlife and life.
"It was not an accident," he said. "It was not a suicide. It was nothing less than murder."
He told Malm he didn't think the night of the crash was the first night she drove drunk. After Lane's death, Hammond said he wanted her to rot in jail.
In court Wednesday, he turned and told Malm: "I forgive you."
Patricia Lane, Travis's aunt, said nearly every bone in her nephew's body was broken during the crash.
If Travis were somehow able to be in the courtroom, he would forgive Malm, she said.
Based on the investigation, prosecutors were not able to prove the manslaughter charge beyond a reasonable doubt, a district attorney official said. The cause of death — whether suicide or an accident — was difficult to prove. Prosecutors said Malm was recharged with hit-and-run and DUI because they were confident the evidence would support those charges.
Many in the courtroom Wednesday expressed their dismay at the reduced charges and lighter sentence.
Friend Chris Hammond said Malm left Travis to die on the side of the road light a stray dog.
"Justice was not done for Travis," he said.
Malm declined to speak. Thompson said she has been unable to drive since the day of the crash due to trauma and has gone through extensive counseling.
"It is a tragedy," he said. "Nobody wanted this to happen."
He said Malm would do everything she could to make sure no one would be back in the courtroom again.
Geyer said he hoped the comments of Travis's friends and family reached Malm and would reach others so that no one else would have to experience the pain of losing a loved one to drunk driving.
"I know this is incredibly unsatisfactory for all the reasons you said," he told Travis's loved ones.
Hopefully, he added, the resolution of the case would help with the grieving process.
As part of her sentence, Geyer order that Malm's driver's license be revoked for five years. She was also ordered to abstain from alcohol and undergo alcohol evaluation and treatment. She will also be required to attend a victim impact panel.
For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth
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