The driver in a crash that killed two Federal Way teenagers days before their high school graduation last year was sentenced to eight years, six months in prison this afternoon.
King County Superior Court Judge James Cayce had little leeway in sentencing Alexander E. Peder for two counts of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.
Deputy prosecutor Amy Freedheim and Peder’s attorney, John Wolfe, both recommended Peder receive the maximum sentence of 8 1/2 years in prison.
Peder’s sentencing range included two two-year enhancements for his two prior DUI-related convictions. He was convicted of first-degree negligent driving in 1998 and of reckless endangerment in 2008.
Peder, 51, was drinking when he crashed his Ford Explorer into a disabled Honda Civic that was stopped in the center lane of southbound Interstate 5 in Tukwila on June 9, 2010, according to court documents.
Derek King, 18, a passenger in the back seat of the Honda, died at the scene. Nicholas Hodgins, also 18, a passenger in the front seat, died the next day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Both were due to graduate within days from Decatur High School.
The Honda’s driver, Anthony Beaver, then a 19-year-old Decatur senior, was treated and released from Harborview.
Family and friends of the victims crowded the courtroom for today’s sentencing at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.
Peder, of Kirkland, pleaded guilty in February to the two counts of DUI vehicular homicide. Tests showed that Peder’s blood-alcohol content after the crash was 0.16, twice the legal limit for drivers.
A Washington State Patrol trooper found a half-full bottle of vodka in Peder’s Explorer after the 10:30 p.m. crash, along with a marijuana pipe and a substance that later tested positive for marijuana.
In September 2010, King County District Court Judge Richard Bathum revoked Peder’s one-year suspended sentence for the reckless endangerment conviction and imposed a one-year jail sentence because of Peder’s involvement in the crash that killed the Federal Way teens.
Cayce also decided today that the one year sentence should run concurrently with Peder’s sentence on the two counts of vehicular homicide.
When Peder pleaded guilty in February, friends and family of the victims wore white T-shirts with either King’s or Hodgins’ photo, a picture of the crashed Honda, and the phrase “DUI Laws Time for Change.” They spoke out after the pleading saying even the maximum sentence wouldn’t be long enough for someone whose actions killed two people.
Peder will receive credit for the time he’s already served.