Families of McLean Co. crash victims worry about potential time in prison for driver responsible

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) As a McLean County man charged with murder for his role in a fatal accident this past spring awaits his next day in court, some of the victims family worry his sentence won’t be enough.

Dylan Howard faces three counts of murder and other charges for his part in a wreck that killed three people on Kentucky 81 this past March.

“Emmy was a ray of sunshine,” said Amy Lehman, Shawna Rodney’s grandmother and great-grandmother to Shawna’s daughter, Emberlyn. “Shawna was a life all of her own. She had a smile and a sparkle to her.”
Their memories haven’t gone away six months after their deaths. Neither has the pain for their families.

“Part of our hearts is gone,” Amy said.

“It’s been very surreal,” adds Heather Kopp, Emberlyn’s grandmother.

The charges Howard faces include three counts of murder, first degree assault, drug trafficking and possession and several other charges. Kentucky State Police say he sideswiped a dump truck, then crashed head on into another vehicle. Joshua Fox also died in the crash. But the Lehmans and Kopp both claim Commonwealth Attorney for McLean County Clayton Douglas Adams told them he is offering a plea deal where Howard could see as little as five years in prison as part of a 20 year sentence, which they say is not enough.

“Three counts of murder, first degree assault, and you’re going to wrap it all up into a nice little bow, and he could be out in five years?” Amy said.

“We’re not asking for life, we’re not asking for him to not have a chance to be rehabilitated. We all believe in recovery. We’re asking for a chance to give him some time to rehabilitate himself,” adds Kopp.

They also claim they didn’t know they could have a victim’s advocate for them until a few weeks ago. The families hope the deal doesn’t happen, but hope Howard is rehabilitated while in prison.

“At least 10 years, before he can be up for parole, and maybe at that time, he won’t hurt somebody else,” said Steve Lehman, Amy’s husband.

We also reached out to Adams for comment, but our calls were not returned.

(This story was originally published on September 14, 2021)

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