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Another Porn Results in Death Case: A Porn-viewing trucker is sentenced in fatal NY crash

Earlier story: www.adultfyi.com/read.php?ID=43824

BATAVIA, N.Y. from www.buffalonews.com — The truck driver who admitted he was watching porn on a laptop and driving on too little sleep when he killed a 33-year-old Snyder mother in a crash on the Thruway last year was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in state prison this morning in Genesee County Court.

A tearful Thomas M. Wallace read an emotional apology to the family of Julie I. Stratton, who was killed when Wallace’s rig plowed into her disabled vehicle on Dec. 12 near Pembroke.

But County Court Judge Robert C. Noonan, while acknowledging Wallace’s remorse, said his “reckless” actions that day merit a severe sentence.

“Your conduct on this day, I can’t think of any other way to say it, was just grossly, grossly irresponsible,” Noonan told the hushed courtroom.

Investigators say Wallace, 45, of Brook Park, Ohio, was distracted because he was watching online pornographic movies at the time of the fatal crash.

Troopers also said Wallace was driving on no more than 4 1/2 hours of sleep over the 27 hours prior to the crash, in violation of federal regulations that limit the hours of commercial drivers.

Wallace pleaded guilty to the most serious charge he faced, second-degree manslaughter, on May 25, and he did so without a sentencing commitment from the judge or prosecutor.

Noonan could have sentenced Wallace to as little as probation or as much as 5 to 15 years in state prison, and he said his decision in the case was a difficult one.

Before Noonan announced the sentence, four members of Stratton’s family read statements urging the judge to harshly punish Wallace for taking away their wife, sister and daughter.

“Because of Mr. Wallace’s actions, my family and I have to live the rest of our lives with the pain and mental torture caused by his recklessness. It is because of Mr. Wallace’s disrespect for our laws and his complete and disgusting lack of concern for others that we are all here today,” said Stratton’s husband, Michael, as he choked back tears.

Wallace gave evolving statements to troopers and investigators after the crash and only reluctantly, and never entirely, accepted that the crash was his fault, Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said.

Wallace’s co-attorney, Michael Mohun, said his client takes full responsibility for Stratton’s death and urged Noonan to take Wallace’s clean prior criminal record, his genuine regret and his service to his family and his community into account in his sentencing.

Wallace told the court that he thinks of Stratton, her children and her family every day, and he said he knows there is nothing he could say today that would ease their pain.

“I hope and pray that someday you will be able to forgive me in your hearts,” Wallace said.

Stratton, who worked for many years at the Cantalician Center for Learning, which serves children with special needs, had two boys, now ages 4 and 1.

Stratton had just dropped off her children at her sister’s Rochester-area house on Dec. 12 and was driving home in the westbound lanes of the Thruway, west of the Pembroke exit.

Her vehicle was disabled after she hit a deer at about 11:20 a.m.

She was able to call her husband, and then 911, but the dispatcher didn’t have time during the brief conversation to relay any instructions, troopers and prosectors said.

Stratton stayed in her vehicle, which remained in the road, for several minutes before the tractor-trailer Wallace operated smashed into the back of her car.

The investigation focused in part on why, according to state police, several drivers were able to avoid Stratton’s vehicle before Wallace crashed into it.

Investigators ruled out drug or alcohol use, weather and road conditions as factors.

They sent a laptop found in the cab of Wallace’s rig to the Western New York Regional Computer Forensic Lab for testing to see if it was running at the time of the crash.

State police say the examination determined Wallace was streaming online pornographic movies while operating his truck.

They also say Wallace had been on the road too long but was keeping fictitious log books to cover his tracks.

State Police Investigator John McCusker led the probe into the crash.

Watch video from inside the court today in this report from The News’ Denise Jewell Gee.

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