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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: May 12, 2014
A sign on a wall that says Death Row - Leckerman Law, LLC

WEST CHESTER – Nothing stopped Robert Landis as he took to Chester County’s roadways drunk over the last 3 decades.

On Wednesday, Landis was sentenced for killing a motorcyclist in 2013 while driving drunk again.

As the Judge sentenced Landis to serve eight to 17 years, County Court Judge Anthony Sarcione said, “It’s just complete indifference to the value of human life, so many times”.

Landis is known as the county’s worst drunken driver, according to the prosecutor. He confirmed seven DUIs prior to killing 24-year-old Liam Crowley in April 2013. At previous hearings, the 50-year-old West Chester man has spoken of his budding sobriety and his desire to keep it. This time, he didn’t bother with promises. He said, “I know no words can change what happened, and I’m sorry for that”.

Diane Crowley’s son died when his motorcycle collided with Landis’ truck on Wilmington Pike in Westtown Township as Landis pulled into oncoming traffic while travelling home from a local bar. Landis’ BAC level was more than three times the legal definition of drunken driving, according to the authorities. The victim’s mother wanted to leave the courtroom as Landis reached the lectern, but didn’t leave until he finished speaking.

According to Prosecutor Chuck Gaza, Landis was so intoxicated that he had leaned onto Crowley’s body at the gasoline-soaked accident spot with a cigarette in his hand.

On Wednesday, Diane Crowley, spoke to the judge in a shaking voice that she wondered whether she would have lived life differently had she known Landis would kill her child. She said, “Would I have spent more time with him? Would I have taught him and shared more with him? Shown more patience? Indulged him? Even spoiled him?”

“Would I have loved him anymore? No. I couldn’t have.” She replied to her questions, “Yes”

Landis committed his first driving under the influence offense in 1981 and after that, numerous offenses followed; Once in 1990, twice in 1997, once in 2002, 2005 and 2009. He was given strict penalties, according to the court documents. Each time, his driving license was suspended. He drove regardless and did not have a valid license when the accident happened, almost two years after he had completed serving his last driving under the influence sentence.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide while intoxicated, driving under a suspended license while intoxicated, and causing an accident involving death or injury without a valid license.

Landis’ case is used by the Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan to call for stricter mandatory minimum sentences for repeat driving under the influence offenders who cause an accident that kills an individual. The state’s mandatory minimum for death by vehicle while driving under the influence is 3 to 6 years. Hogan has created legislation that will impose a seven-year mandatory minimum for each offender if the driver has been convicted of 3 previous driving under the influence offenses.

On Wednesday, the requirement of strict laws related to DUI was discussed by Gaza but he also said the judicial system failed to hold Landis responsible. Until he was sentenced for his seventh DUI in 2009, a case also handled by Sarcione – Landis had not been given jail time.

Liam Crowley’s father, Patrick, said that his family made efforts with whether to accept the plea agreement approved on Wednesday, believing that it wasn’t enough but having the knowledge of the limits of the courts. The father said he planned to lobby for strict legislation. “If it hadn’t been my son, it would have been someone else,” he said.

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