July 3, 2013
Truxton man sentenced in DWI death of Fabius man
Driving after drinking alcohol has destroyed too many lives, Cortland County Judge William Ames said Tuesday in sentencing a Truxton man to prison for a drunk driving accident last summer that killed a Fabius man.
Ames said he sentenced a young woman several years ago for killing someone in a drunk driving accident, ordering her to speak at high schools about her mistake.
“I remember at that sentencing thinking, I don’t want to do this again, yet here we are,” Ames said before sentencing Derek R. Manwarren to one to three years in prison for second-degree vehicular manslaughter.
Manwarren, 22, of 3944 Route 13, also had his driver’s license revoked and must pay $375 in court fees. Ames added a conditional discharge.
Manwarren was sentenced for killing Brian Cook, 26, of Fabius on July 6, 2012, in a collision on Route 13 a few miles north of East Homer.
Two trucks were parked at 3 a.m. along the road just across from Twin Oaks Farm, one with a flat tire that Cook was changing. Manwarren’s truck hit the truck that Cook was under, which hit the truck ahead of it.
A memorial with crosses and a pine sapling mark the spot.
“There are no winners today,” said Cook’s mother, Laura DeHart, after the sentencing.
Manwarren and his attorney, Christopher Simser, declined to say anything in court. Manwarren, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and jeans, stood with his head bowed as Cook’s family spoke of their loss.
Cook’s mother and sister Shannon Cook Ashley read statements. His brother Leonard M. Cook, who was not present, had a statement read by Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth McGrath. His father, Leonard S. Cook, did not speak.
The sentencing was held in the state Supreme Court courtroom due to the large attendance.
About 20 of Cook’s family and friends were present, wearing blue T-shirts with his name, the slogan “In Loving Memory” and his motocross racing number 840 on them. The shirts were ordered by his fellow racer Owen German.
About 20 of Manwarren’s family and friends sat on the other side of the courtroom.
McGrath said the sentence would not fix the Cook family’s pain but could send a message about driving and drinking. She said Manwarren’s Facebook page hours before the crash showed a picture of him getting a ticket from a state trooper and said he was headed for a bar, for a 2-for-1 drink special.
Manwarren and Cook both drank at Beer Goggles bar in downtown Cortland that night, just hours before the crash.
McGrath said their blood-alcohol content readings were the same, at 0.16, but the difference was that Cook had a plan for getting home safely — riding with a sober driver. She said Manwarren had no such plan.
“I worry that you will learn nothing and do the same thing again,” McGrath said to Manwarren. “You shouldn’t drink again. Your drinking has already robbed your family and Brian’s family of so much.”
Stopping at times due to her emotions, Ashley read a statement saying she thinks of her brother every day, recalling he was to serve as best man at his brother’s wedding and be at her wedding.
DeHart said she does not hate Manwarren but hates the decision he made that night, adding that he was being sentenced four days before the one-year anniversary of the crash.
Afterward, she said she was appalled that Manwarren did not apologize for causing her son’s death.
Cook’s uncle, Alva Cook, said he hopes Manwarren listened to the Cooks’ statements. He noted that neither driver of the other two trucks, the ones parked along Route 13 — including the one where Cook was a passenger — were drunk.
“Those guys had designated drivers, they did what they were supposed to do, and this still happened,” he said.
Ames recalled a car accident involving drunk driving that killed four teenagers at Colgate University in 2000.
He said it is time to emphasize the message that drinking and driving do not go together.
Manwarren spent four months in jail before posting $10,000 cash bail in December.
Friends said last year that Manwarren and Cook knew each other slightly from having similar interests in country music concerts and off-road vehicles. At the bar that evening, Cook asked to borrow Manwarren’s white cowboy hat for a photograph.
Cook’s family and friends created the roadside memorial two days after the accident. It was taken down for the winter, so snowplows would not hit it, then put up again in April.
One cross uses bright green fenders from his motocross bike.
He will be honored at a motocross race at Thornwood MX Raceway in Oswego County on July 28.
About 40 of Manwarren’s friends had a Facebook page in his behalf, created by his sister, in the months after the crash.
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