A La Crosse man was sentenced to 66 years in prison for an October 2018 fatal crash in Sauk County that claimed the lives of two people and severely injured two others.
Albart B. Shores, 59, who was found guilty by a jury in April apologized for driving drunk in his 2002 Volkswagen Golf along Interstate 94/90 in the town of Delton.
“I would like to apologize for my actions Oct. 20, 2018,” Shores said. “The decision I made was careless and irresponsible... I’m so sorry.”
The vehicle, which was also carrying his 19-year-old daughter, 23-year-old Shaquita V. Fajr and a 2-year-old child, hit a 2009 GMC Yukon being driven by David A. Howe, 60, of Menomonie. Both Howe and a passenger, Scot Miller, 56, of Colfax, died as a result of the crash. Two other men, Thomas D. Millar and Richard P. Schoenke, were in the backseat at the time of the collision and were seriously injured. They were all driving back to the Colfax area early after visiting Madison for an annual gathering at a Badgers football game because Miller’s mother was severely ill.
Circuit Court Judge Patricia Barrett sentenced Shores to 66 years in prison and 38 years of extended supervision. She echoed a sentiment made by Sauk County District Attorney Michael Albrecht that though Shores expressed remorse for his actions, he acts in a way that contradicts his stated intentions.
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“The defendant gives lip service to taking responsibility, then he proceeds to blame everybody else for the position that he’s in,” Albrecht said.
A pre-sentence investigation was completed by the Department of Corrections which recommended Shores be incarcerated for 37 years. Shores’ attorney, Jeremiah Meyer-O’Day had requested a delay for the state public defender’s office to conduct its own investigation after being unable to find someone to complete the work for $1,200, which was denied by Barrett.
Albrecht said Shores, who was convicted on his 7th drunken driving offense, could no longer be helped. He recommended 80 years; 50 years in prison and 30 years of extended supervision.
“I don’t care about the defendant’s rehabilitative needs,” Albrecht said. “I don’t have sympathy for his treatment needs, I have no interest in seeing him better himself in prison. This is a housing issue, and frankly judge, if this defendant ever gets out I think he will kill someone else.”
Shores was found guilty April 23 and held in jail after the jury decision. Meyer-O’Day had argued that a strong wind was likely the cause of the crash. Shores was found to be driving with a 0.09% blood alcohol content and had ingested cocaine the night before.
Meyer-O’Day argued Thursday that Shores accepted his mistakes and, because he has had a lifelong addiction, he does not understand how drugs and alcohol affect him. He said Shores has stage 3 colon cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asked that the court allow his client to be released toward the end of his life if he were to survive for roughly the next 15 to 25 years.
“None of that is to minimize the gravity and the absolute tragedy of what happened here,” Meyer-O’Day said. “I came into the sentencing wanting to ask the court to give my client the chance to see the outside of a cage, and that’s what I’m asking.”
Family members of the men who died and those in the crash spoke to the court, asking that Shores be held accountable after decades of reduced sentences even after repeated charges.
Millar, who was injured in the rollover with 10 broken ribs, a broken vertebrae, a dislocated knee that still causes pain and his ankle turned 180 degrees with his foot severed that also still causes pain, explained how the men in the Yukon had made safe decisions that were eliminated by Shores’ careless ones.
“I deal daily with the decisions Mr. Shores has made,” Millar said. “All decisions in life have consequences. In a perfect world, the consequences match the choice. The world, however, is not perfect and sometimes someone else’s choices dominate. ...Our right choices ended up completely taken over by his wrong choices.”
Bobbi Jo Miller, widow of Scot Miller, cried as she spoke about the loss of her husband and its effects on her life and the business they shared.
“It’s been almost three years and words can’t describe how I miss him,” Miller said.
Paula Millar, Thomas Millar’s wife, said she didn’t intend to speak during the hearing, but in her sleepless night, she kept thinking of the word “broken.” Paula Millar said she watched her husband’s “spirit breaking” as he remained immobile due to his injuries for months.
“Mr. Shores, I don’t wish ill for you,” Millar said. “What I wish for is that you start holding yourself accountable for decisions you have made that have ruined people’s lives… thousands of people’s lives, including your own children and grandchildren, whose lives have changed because of the decisions you have made. And it is time not for the courts to hold you accountable, but for you to hold yourself accountable.”
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