It’s not the justice the victims wanted. But it’s the justice they got, and it’s all the justice they are going to get.
Gasps of disbelief could be heard across the state of Arizona, and throughout the country as news of Michael Jakscht’s sentencing spread. “I now have officially lost faith in our legal system in Arizona,” one supporter proclaimed.
“How could he be sentenced to only 26 years after doing meth and then killing four 4 innocent people with his truck?” many asked.
The answer lies in the sentencing guidelines, to which all judges are bound. Judge Welty could have imposed a more lenient sentence, which would have been substantially more disappointing to victim’s supporters. He also could have “stacked” the four counts of manslaughter in the form of consecutive terms, which would have essentially quadrupled the number of years Jakscht would have to serve. However, by stepping outside of the guidelines and exercising his judicial powers to impose a more severe sentence, surely would have resulted in a successful appeal by defense.
“If the sentenced were to be appealed, we would have to do this thing a third time, and no one wants that,” Lori Lizarraga posted on Facebook. Mrs. Lizarraga is the wife of Fire Captain Ernie Lizarraga, who suffered the most severe injuries from the crash. “Ernie and I are at peace with this even though yes, he deserves more”.
In accordance with Arizona rules, Jakscht must serve 85% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. This means that the now 49 year old will be 68 by the time he goes before the parole board.
“We wanted to see him spend the remainder of his life behind bars,” several supporters pined. “But at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that his life is essentially over.