Are people getting the message? Community reacts to District Attorney’s harsher DUI penalties

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Two men involved in two deadly crashes while driving under the influence are facing second degree murder charges. 8 News Now spoke with members of the community Wednesday to see if this emotional message from Clark County’s District Attorney is making an impact. 

“I want you to listen to my words carefully,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said during a press conference. “You have choices.”

Thirty-four-year-old Kevin Raspperry was charged with murder after reports said he caused a deadly, multiple car crash at South Rainbow Boulevard and West Tropicana Avenue on Oct. 27. 

Twenty-four-year-old Aaron Kruse also faces a murder charge after police said he caused a gruesome, fiery crash while driving under the influence. This happened at Boulder Highway and East Flamingo Road on Nov. 9. Officials said two people died in the car Kruse hit after it caught fire.

“When the behavior of defendants is so reckless and so callous and in such disregard for human life,” DA Wolfson said of both situations. “It qualifies for a charge of murder.”

Those 8 News Now spoke to about these harsher penalties didn’t hear Wolfson’s impassioned speech but were definitely behind his decision. 

“I think there are people that are dead because of this,” Las Vegas local Ana Lerma said.

“All these requisites from the court and you’re still drinking and driving?” Las Vegas local Esperanza Montelongo echoed. “You’re still disregarding society. You’re a menace.”

Both women called these kinds of crashes reckless. They told 8 News Now they’re often terrified to get behind the wheel. 

“I do feel nervous,” Lerma said. “I want to make sure that I feel safe and that we’re protected.”

They said any action to keep those they call “dangerous” off the streets will keep everyone out of harm’s way. 

“I don’t want to die,” Montelongo said. 

Normally, felony DUI charges are filed in deadly cases like these, but DA Wolfson said these upgraded charges are necessary. 

A felony DUI charge carries a sentence of two to 12 years in prison. Conversely, a second-degree murder charge can have a potential life sentence with eligibility for parole after 15 years. 

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