COEUR d'ALENE - The driver who chased three Coeur d'Alene teenagers preceding a fatal 2010 car accident near Twin Falls pleaded guilty to reckless driving Tuesday.
Kade D. Laughlin, 21, of Filer, entered the plea in Fifth District Court in Twin Falls, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 160 of those days suspended.
Of the remaining 20 days, Laughlin must serve 10 in jail, and the other 10 days can be fulfilled through community service, said Grant Loebs, Twin Falls prosecutor.
As part of his community service Laughlin will speak to youth about what happened Sept. 12, 2010, when Coeur d'Alene teenagers Devon Austin, 19, and Ryan Reinhardt, 18, died in a single-vehicle car accident around 1 a.m. on a rural road outside Twin Falls as they left a party at Laughlin's house.
A third Coeur d'Alene teenager, Jessica Duran, survived the wreck.
All of those involved were students at College of Southern Idaho. Austin was a star baseball player who had been drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
The mothers of the deceased boys were not allowed to read impact statements at the hearing, Magistrate Judge Nicole Cannon ruled.
Laughlin, with at least three passengers in his truck, chased the Coeur d'Alene teenagers following a verbal altercation at the party. But the judge ruled only victims could make statements, Loebs said. Only in homicide cases are family members of the deceased allowed to address the court, per state statute. According to investigation reports, Laughlin ended the chase before the accident occurred.
Laura Wilson, Reinhardt's mother, attended the hearing with Paula Austin, Devon Austin's mother. They said Laughlin and his attorney, Keith Roark, said before the hearing that they would proceed to trial rather than enter a plea and have the mothers read their statements.
The objection went to the judge, who ruled they shouldn't be allowed.
"It's just disappointing," Wilson said. "He can't even give us five minutes to talk ... There is still no accountability."
Laughlin was also ordered to pay $500 in fines, placed on two years probation, with one year supervised, and lost his driver's license for 30 days.
Loebs said the prosecution felt it was better to obtain the plea rather than drag the issue to trial, where the mothers still wouldn't be able to enter the statements.
"I was disappointed they weren't allowed to say something," he said, adding that the statements, which addressed moving on in the face of tragedy, were "very classy, very considerate, and very appropriate" given the circumstances.
"I think it would have helped the mothers," he said. "I think they would have felt better if they would have been able to do that."
Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Laughlin said he didn't want to comment on a case that's received media attention.
"I don't want to jeopardize anything," he said.
Roark could not be reached Tuesday.
According to an Idaho State Police collision reconstruction report, Reinhardt, the driver of the Camry car being pursued, failed to navigate a curve while traveling at least 94 mph on rural 3900 N Road as it intersected with U.S. Highway 30.
His blood alcohol level was .19. The legal limit is .08, and the legal drinking age is 21.
Duran, the lone survivor, identified later that Laughlin had been chasing their vehicle. Later that morning, Twin Falls County Sheriff's deputies arrested Laughlin for driving under the influence of alcohol.
As part of that sentence, Laughlin was ordered to pay $582.50, given one year probation, and work detail in lieu of jail.
Since that arrest, Laughlin has been sentenced to eight days in jail for violating probation with alcohol offenses. He was caught with beer or consuming beer on two separate occasions, according to Twin Falls court records.
Wilson's statement, forwarded to The Press, said she believes Laughlin never intended to cause a fatal accident that night, but his "reckless behavior" resulted in one.
"Because of his actions, that is what happened. More disturbing than this is his continued reckless behavior. Since that night Kade Laughlin has had several run-ins with the law resulting in little or no accountability," the statement read.
"There's no closure at all," Wilson said in a phone interview. "If (Laughlin) had an ounce of remorse he would have had us stand up and have us read our statements ... They took that away from us too."