Gerald Wetherbee, 36, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular assault, operating under the influence and driving under suspension.
Prosecutors say his blood alcohol level was .257 on June 11, 2011 when his car went off the right side of State Route 83 in Grafton. He over-corrected and crossed the center line hitting another car driven by Tom Tomasheski Jr., 38. Also in his car was Tomasheski’s wife, Tammy, 36, son Tommy, 11, and daughter Danielle, 13.
The crash killed Tammy and Tommy Tomasheski.
Tom Tomasheski Jr. and his daughter Danielle were critically injured.
So many supporters of the Tomasheski family came to Wetherbee’s sentencing on Friday that the case had to be moved to a bigger courtroom.
Tomasheski Jr. was the first of four family members to speak at Wetherbee’s sentencing on Friday, telling Judge James Burge, “I pray that the community be kept safe from Gerald Wetherbee.”
Holding photos of his deceased wife and son Tomasheski talked about the loss to his family,
“My family is the most recent victim created in the wake of Gerald Wetherbee,” said Tomasheski, adding, “the ripple effect that he has created has now impacted many within this community as shown by there presence in the courtroom today.”
“I fear for his next tidal wave of crime,” added Tomasheski.
Also speaking was Tomasheski’s brother, Todd, who said his young nephew was more like a son to him.
“The scars, pain and damage will not be free of him or us in 10, 20 or even 30 years,” said Todd Tomasheski.
But the most emotional plea came from the Tom Tomasheski Sr, a retired Lorain County Deputy.
The senior Tomasheski spoke of happy family gatherings on holidays and how the birth of his grandchildren brought himself and his wife great joy.
He also spoke about walking into a hospital room to see the lifeless body of his grandson, then kissing him goodbye.
Tomasheski Sr., also made a point to outline Wetherbee’s criminal record. A record he said started with the theft of a payroll check from his own mother and later included two drunk driving arrests as well as a guilty plea on a charge of gross sexual imposition involving an inappropriate act with a nine-year old girl.
“We have waited for over a year now your honor for this moment and a big moment it is!” said Tomasheski Sr., “We have buried two family members and continue to aid our maimed. Our hearts are broke. And no, sending Gerald Wetherbee to prison isn’t going to stop our pain, but it will put this saga behind us. And we will know we did out part to protect others.”
Many in the courtroom sobbed as the senior Tomasheski spoke of the family’s loss.
When given a chance to address the court Wetherbee’s attorney described his client as genuinely remorseful.
Defense attorney Frank Janik told Burge that Wetherbee does not want to be defined by this one act.
Weeping before Burge, Wetherbee acknowledged his crime.
“I know I have made a lot of mistakes in life, but this was the worst thing that I have ever done.”
In passing sentence Burge told Wetherbee he had to protect the public.
“Mr. Wetherbee your sin was this,” said Burge, adding ” You are an alcoholic and when you picked up that first drink you knew what was going to happen.”
Burge sentenced Wetherbee to a total of 34 years in prison, telling him, “the likelihood of you finishing this sentence is not good,” because Wetherbee had been diagnosed with emphysema at a young age.
Following the sentencing Tomasheski Sr. told Fox 8 News he found Wetherbee’s apology to be insincere. Referring to details of a letter that Wetherbee had earlier written to the Tomasheski family.
“I don’t buy any of the remorse stuff. He’s more remorseful that he can’t build bird houses with his mother,” said Tomasheski Sr.
But he also told Fox 8 that the family is satisfied with the sentence.
“I’m happy for my family that justice has finally been served, and we can put this behind us now and start moving forward,” said Tomasheski Sr.
“This isn’t going to heal my family. We have a life sentence. We can only do the best we can each and every day, and we will.” he added.