Cincinnati pastor convicted and sentenced for fatal DUI crash

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

FALMOUTH, KY (FOX19)  - The man accused of killing a Northern Kentucky prosecutor in a DUI crash has been found guilty on the most serious charge he faced.

A Pendleton County jury deliberated for nearly three hours before sealing the fate of Daniel Keith Gabbard, 41, on Thursday afternoon.

Gabbard slowly entered the courtroom in Falmouth, Ky. Dressed in a gray jumpsuit, the part-time Cincinnati pastor and commercial truck driver carefully walked to his seat. Minutes later, he heard his worst fears. There was silence and then tears after the judge delivered the verdict: Guilty of Wanton Murder.

Defense Attorney Eric Deters said he was shocked and saddened by the decision.

"There's no question that we believe the facts would be more consistent with a manslaughter two," Deters said. "However we're very thankful and grateful to the jury for giving him the minimum {sentence.}"

Wanton Murder carries a sentence between 20-50 years. Gabbard was sentenced to 20 years. Prosecutors praised the decision.

"What happened here tonight as far as the minimum punishment was nothing more than what Doug Wright's family wanted," said Commonwealth Prosecutor Linda Tally Smith. "Doug's legacy here in this county was that he was a good man and he was a fantastic prosecutor."

Last June, police said Gabbard downed more than a dozen beers and drove his semi-truck at least 300 miles from Ohio to Kentucky before hitting and killing Pendleton County Prosecutor Doug Wright on U.S. 27 in Pendleton County.

Before sentencing, Gabbard took the stand one last time, apologizing and pleading for mercy.

"The last thing I ever thought that I would do is be the reason for another man's life being taken," Gabbard said. "I'm sorry."

Emotions were high all around in the courtroom. Minutes later, Smith delivered closing sentencing arguments. She held back tears several times. Once, she asked Wright's wife for a tissue.

Gabbard will have to serve at least 17 years of his 20-year sentence before he will be eligible for parole.

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