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15 years for DUI manslaughter that killed decorated World War II vet on scooter

LARGO — Jill Smith is glad it's over.

On Tuesday, the man who hit and killed her 84-year-old father two years ago as he tried to cross Missouri Avenue in a mobility scooter received the maximum prison sentence.

Forgoing a trial that was to begin Tuesday morning, Angus T. Davis III of Clearwater pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Cynthia Newton sentenced Davis to 15 years in prison.

"It keeps a lot of people safe," said Smith, a Clearwater resident. "I'm pleased. He's 61 now and suffered a stroke through his alcoholism. He'll never walk out of prison."

Smith is also pleased the trial didn't take place. "Nothing can replace my father," she said. "But now, we don't have to continue to go through this roller coaster of emotion. Justice has been served."

At 2:20 p.m. Dec. 12, 2007, Jack Schaffer, a decorated World War II Army veteran who participated in the invasion of Normandy, was crossing at the 900 block of Missouri Avenue in Largo.

It was his routine to go to the nearby Walmart and get coffee.

Largo police said Davis struck Schaffer's scooter on the left side, wedging it underneath the center and right front bumper of the 1997 GMC Sierra pickup truck he was driving. Police say Davis traveled 146.6 feet before reacting to the crash.

At the time of the accident, Davis had a blood-alcohol level of 0.348, which is four times the level at which a driver in Florida is presumed to be impaired. Davis had a 1992 DUI conviction.

"There are so many of these types of cases, and judges are consistently giving maximum-term sentences on DUI manslaughter," said Holly Grissinger, the assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case. "The judges in Pinellas County are not going to tolerate people driving drunk hurting and/or killing people."

Angus' attorney, Masable Baker, declined to comment.

Schaffer went into the Army in 1942, and as a private, parachuted into enemy territory in the dark just after midnight on June 6, 1944.

He was supposed to land 10 miles inland from Omaha Beach and wait for reinforcements. But things didn't go as planned for the paratroopers in the 101st Airborne Division. Many landed off target, got separated or drowned in the English Channel.

Schaffer earned a Purple Heart after being shot in the leg and was awarded a Bronze Star with a V for valor. In 2005, the French Consulate honored him for his World War II service. Schaffer moved to Clearwater in 1997.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

15 years for DUI manslaughter that killed decorated World War II vet on scooter 01/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 7:19pm]
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