Blackford County imposes maximum sentence in drunk driving crash that killed two people


HARTFORD CITY, Ind. – A Blackford County mother confronted the woman whose drunk driving claimed the lives of her 5-year-old son and the boy’s great-grandfather on Friday.

“The trauma and heartbreak you have caused a family will never be forgiven,” Kaitlyn Elizabeth Strait told Brandi S. Bare, a 46-year-old from Montpellier. who had pleaded guilty in September to six crimes following a fatal accident on June 2.

Blackford Superior Court Judge Nick Barry on Friday sentenced Bare to 57 years in prison, the maximum sentence for his convictions – two counts each of causing death while driving while intoxicated, reckless homicide and causing serious bodily harm while driving while intoxicated.

Prosecutors said Bare was intoxicated – his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.26, more than three times the legal limit for motorists – when his car crashed into the Montpelier home of Jerry A. “Jake” Michael, 73.

Michael and his great-grandson Jenson Reynolds were killed. Jenson’s sister, then weeks shy of her second birthday, suffered a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury, and the children’s father was also injured.

Strait noted on Friday that with her fatally injured son still under Bare’s vehicle, Montpelier’s wife tried to run away from the scene.

“You took my baby from me,” she told the accused. “I hope you live in hell every day for the rest of your life.”

In a brief statement, a tearful Bare apologized for the hurt she had caused.

“I hope one day maybe you can forgive me, she told survivors of her victims.

Judge Barry found only one mitigating factor in favor of Bare – that she had pleaded guilty without the benefit of a plea agreement.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Joelle Freiburger had recommended a maximum sentence for Bare, who also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement and being a habitual vehicular offender.

Marion’s defense attorney Jarred Lee Eib recommended his client receive a 10-year sentence with two years suspended.

Bare – who had a previous drunk driving conviction – was given credit for 207 days already spent in Blackford County Jail.

Douglas Walker is a journalist at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or [email protected]

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