A woman in Gibson County, guilty of killing two men in a car crash, will spend the next 21 years in prison. Family of the two victims cried and hugged as her sentence was handed down Wednesday.
Judge Robert Krieg gave Ashley Sanders, 25, as many years as he was allowed by law while family of Trevor Watt, 19, and James Gasaway, 20, will spend all their years without them.
The crash happened almost five months ago to the day, on September 1, 2018.
“I’ve never really accepted the fact that Trevor is gone,” said Tabitha Devasier, Watt’s mom. “I just think that he’s at work or hanging out with his friends.”
Watt and Gasaway died on Old 41 North in Princeton. Court records show Sanders was drunk, on drugs, and driving 98 miles per hour when her car slammed into the back of Watt’s.
Michael Cochren, Gibson County Prosecutor, urged the judge to sentence Sanders to the max. “There’s no easy way to go about this process at all,” Cochren said. “It’s just heart wrenching.”
Sanders plead guilty this month and her fate was sealed. Judge Krieg gave Sanders credit during the sentencing for not putting the victim’s family through a trial.
Fighting back tears, family spoke for an hour. Many read letters but others spoke from the heart. Cochren read other notes from extended family, often getting emotional. Most asked the judge for justice and hoped Sanders would find help.
Paula Hosmer, Gasaway’s mom, choked back tears for most of the sentencing.
“I dropped out of speech class four times when I was getting my Bachelor’s degree because I couldn’t stand up in front of anybody,” Hosmer explained. “But there was nothing else I would rather stand up in front of except to prove how much James meant to everybody.”
Sanders’ aunt, Lisa Davis spoke to the judge after the victim’s families. She said her niece is “a sweet person,” and admitted Sanders “made poor choices, but never meant to hurt anyone.”
Davis told the judge, since the crash Sanders reads the Bible. She said Sanders will carry the consequences of her actions “for the rest of her life.”
Sanders spoke briefly, standing to face the judge. She admitted, “I’ve done a terrible thing,” and “nothing I said can make this right.”
She said the accident “haunts me every day.”
Sanders was sentenced to the maximum; 24 years in prison. She’ll be eligible for probation after 21 years. She was put into handcuffs and escorted out of the courthouse by Gibson County deputies.
She’ll be 46 years old when she gets out of prison.
Cochren and the families were overwhelmed, saying justice was served.
“I wanted to make Trevor proud,” Devasier said. “That was my number one thing to do, was have him look down on me and know I was doing the best I could.”
Cochren found it hard to find the words to describe the whole situation. “Two young men that were just beginning their lives,” he said. “Kids you want growing up and sticking around, and it’s just so unnecessary.”
All that’s left now is to deal with that gut-wrenching realization of how to move forward.
“Today kind of opened that door to my new reality, my new normal,” Devasier added with a long pause. “I really don’t know how to answer that question.”
The two moms who lost their sons told the judge it will be hard to forgive. It will surely take time.
But time won’t ever forget.
“No matter how many years she got today,” Devasier said. “It will never bring the boys back.”