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Man Sentenced to 10 Years In Fatal Drunk Driving Accident

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COMANCHE CO., Okla_ A Kansas man will spend the next ten years behind bars for a drunken driving incident that killed a Sterling man back in 2011.

Colby Hamlin accepted a blind plea in a Comanche County courtroom this afternoon. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter last September in the death of 76-year-old James Bragg. Prosecutors said Hamlin was drunk behind the wheel of a pickup that crashed into Bragg, as he sat outside his favorite restaurant in Sterling.

Hamlin sat anxiously in the courtroom with his grandmother at his side, as he waited to hear his punishment for killing 76-year-old James Bragg almost two years ago. Hamlin was convicted on two charges: first-degree manslaughter and escape from arrest. Less than fifteen minutes later, a Comanche County judge told Hamlin that he would spend the next ten years behind bars.

Hamlin's attorney Stephen Fabian said his client decided to accept a blind plea, which allows a judge to decide the punishment, because going to trial was too risky.

"He may have been sentenced to four years to life," Fabian said. "So, there's a risk. If he were to be sentenced to say 20 or 25 years in jail, in 18 ½, years he's going to be almost 50 years old. There's not much chance to recover from that. They decided that risk was not worth it."

He said this particular case, although senseless, was not a typical drunk-driving manslaughter situation.

"This was a rather unique situation," Fabian said. "This wasn't about being out driving down the road drunk and swerving all over the place. It was a matter of the defendant parking, waiting for the store to open, and the car idling into this individual who was sitting there."

After sentencing, the judge allowed Hamlin a few minutes to say goodbye to his family. There were no members of Bragg's family in the courtroom, but he was loved by an entire town.

Fabian said his client has not reached out to the victim's family yet. That's something he advises clients to wait on, at least until the case is finished.

"I advise him not to do that," Fabian said, "At least until we get the case tried. Sometimes people may say something that could be inferred as an admission. We can't afford to let those kinds of things happen. No matter how often we want to say, "God, I am sorry." We regret all the things that happened. We try to keep that down until after the case is over. Now, there may be something done at this point, now that the case is finally disposed of."

Again, Hamlin has been sentenced to ten years in prison with credit for time already served. He will be eligible for parole in 8 1/2 years.

The Comanche County District Attorney's office had recommended 20 years in prison, but say they respect the judge's decision.

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