BY ERIN NISSLEY
They had already written letters to Judge Vito Geroulo, which the judge said moved him deeply. In the letters, the Van Fleets made no mention of bitterness toward 26-year-old Casey D. Plummer, of 96 Mathewson Terrace, Factoryville, for the May 2006 wreck in West Abington Township that killed their 21-year-old son, Matthew.
Plummer will serve one month in prison followed by five months of house arrest after pleading no contest in August to involuntary manslaughter. He had a blood alcohol content of .20 percent – the legal limit is .08 – and was traveling between 67 and 70 mph when he hit a tree and rolled his Ford F-150, ejecting Mr. Van Fleet.
Although the Van Fleets did not address the court at Plummer’s sentencing, Geroulo addressed them briefly before handing down the sentence. He praised them for the level of “charity and forgiveness” they displayed in their letters.
“There’s not one ounce of bitterness or revenge,” the judge said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen letters of this type before.”
The judge also spoke about the 50 or so letters written on behalf of Plummer, many of which praised him for going out of his way to help others.
“I have no doubt there was no … intent” to kill Van Fleet, the judge said. “But Matthew wasn’t the only victim. You put the public at risk.”
Plummer also fought tears as he talked about how much he missed Van Fleet, whom he called “a brother I never had.”
“If I could take it back, I would,” he said. “It’s been about a year and a half, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.”
Then he turned to the Van Fleets, who clutched each other but met his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he told them. “I’m sorry.”
Plummer will also have to contribute $2,500 to a Lackawanna Trail scholarship fund set up in Van Fleet’s name.
Geroulo also sentenced Plummer to 100 hours of community service, but said he’d consider reducing it if Plummer wanted to speak at area high schools about the dangers of drinking and driving.