Judge Sentences Teen to ChurchBy Christina Lopez | ABC News Blogs – 9 hours ago
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Judge Sentences Teen to Church …
Anybody who knows Oklahoma District Court Judge Mike Norman probably yawned at the news that he'd sentenced a teen offender to attend church as part of his probation arrangement, and that the judge's pastor was in the courtroom at the time.
Not only had he handed down such a sentence before, but he'd required one man to bring the church program back with him when he reported to court.
"The Lord works in many ways," Norman, 69, told ABC News today. "I've done a little bit of this kind of thing before, but never on such a serious charge."
Norman sentenced Tyler Alred, 17, Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in August for killing friend and passenger John Luke Dum in a car crash.
Dum died on impact in December after Alred crashed his Chevrolet pickup truck, ejecting Dum. Alred was 16 at the time of the crash and had been drinking prior to the deadly accident.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol issued a Breathalyzer at the time, and although Alred was under the state's legal alcohol limit, he had been drinking underage.
The judge could have sent Alred to jail but, instead, taking into account his clean criminal and school records, sentenced him to wear a drug and alcohol bracelet, participate in counseling groups and attend a church of his choosing - weekly. He must also graduate from high school.
To avoid jail time, Norman gave Alred a maximum 10-year deferred sentence.
He'd never passed down the church-attendance requirement for someone as young as Alred, said Norman, who has worked as a district Judge in Muskogee for 14 years.
"It's not going to be automatic, I guarantee you," Norman said of the church sentence on future manslaughter charges. "There are a lot of people who say I can't do what I did. They're telling me I can't legally sentence someone to church."
Alred's lawyer is not among the critics. "I usually represent outlaws and criminals," defense attorney Donn Baker told the Muskogee Phoenix . "This is a kid that made a mistake. I think he's worth saving."
In the courtroom this week, an emotional scene between the victim's family and Alred played out after statements from Dum's mother, father and two sisters were read during the sentencing. Dum's father and Alred stood up in court, turned toward each other and embraced one another.
"At that moment, it sure became a reality to me that I would sentence this boy to church" to help set him on the right path, Norman, a member of First Baptist Church in Muskogee, said. "There's nothing I can do to make this up to the family.
"I told my preacher I thought I led more people to Jesus than he had but, then again, more of my people have amnesia. They soon forget once they get out of jail."
After completing the rest of the requirements in his sentence, Alred will have the charge removed from his record.
"Only time will tell if we've saved Tyler Alred's life," the judge said.
From what i've read it seems the teen was ALREADY a member of a church, so if he's already a member and he still did what he did what makes the judge think MORE church will make a difference??
Growing up attending church there were members who were addicted to drugs/alcohol/gambling/sex/etc, there were members who were spousal abusers, child abusers, child molestors, rapists and yes even murderers. So what in the world makes this guy think that going to church will make this teen a better person?
In my experience no amount of church will change a person or make them a better or worse person, it just makes them who they are as they sit in a pew.
This kid happens to be Christian. But what if he were athiest, Muslim, Jewish, etc. The judge specifically is. Proud for introducing more people to Jesus than his minister. Pushing Jesus from the court isn't a 1st Amendment violation of establishment? You have to pick a Jesus denomiation to establish Christianity? As a Jew, I was unaware.
I have no issue with it...the judge said the church of his choice...that is not a first amendment violation.
I think this is much preferable to jail......even though I probably would have had the kid mopping the floors of the morgue for a while.
What exactly happened in the accident? The driver was not legally drunk, so what caused the crash?
Alred was charged as a youthful offender with manslaughter for a Dec. 3 crash that killed Dum, 16. Dum was killed when he was ejected from a pickup Alred was driving. An Oklahoma Highway Patrol report stated Alred told OHP troopers he had consumed alcohol prior to the crash.
Before being sentenced, Alred addressed the Dum family for the first time since the crash.
“I know my words cannot bring him back,” Alred said. “I did not want to do what I did. I want to change my life. I have changed my life.”
Alred, teared up and began openly crying.
“This is terrible,” he said. “This is awful.”
Jim Dum, John’s father, stood up from his front row seat and embraced Alred. Both were sobbing.
“I’m sorry,” Alred said. “I’m so sorry.”
Documents state Alred took two breathalyzer tests the night of the crash. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.06 and the second showed him having a content of 0.07.