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Driver Gets Probation In Death Of 9-Year-Old

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PORTAGE, Ind. (STMW) - The Portage, Ind. man who admitted to fatally striking a 9-year-old girl with his pickup in February 2009 will not serve any prison time.

Instead, Richard Warren McCall, 31, received a sentence of one year on probation on Friday.

The family of Elizabeth Miller was not happy with the sentence issued by Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa. A jury on Nov. 19 found McCall guilty of two misdemeanors — criminal recklessness with a motor vehicle and reckless driving — and not guilty of any felonies.

“I can’t believe he didn’t do one day in jail for this. There is no justice,” said Elizabeth’s father, Jim Miller.

McCall had faced up to eight years incarceration if found guilty of the felonies of reckless homicide and criminal recklessness.

McCall admitted to killing the Portage girl by hitting her with his truck, and the trial was based on whether his behavior was reckless when he admitted to trying to scare a group of children away from an abandoned house he owns.

The house had been the subject of frequent vandalism and break-ins. On Feb. 9, 2009, a neighbor called McCall about youths again being at the house in the 5200 block of Concord Avenue in Portage.

Defense attorney Gary Germann argued that McCall didn’t know the youths at his house were so young. He said McCall intended to run them off, then couldn’t brake in time to avoid Elizabeth in the winter weather.

Deputy prosecutor Andrew Bennett said during sentencing arguments, “Mr. McCall had the right to protect his property, but he did not have the right to do what he did.”

McCall didn’t drive slowly or wait for police but went in a rage, Bennett said before asking for the maximum of a year in prison.

Elizabeth’s mother, Lisa Miller, said during her victim’s statement, “What is the difference between pointing a gun at a group of children to scare them or aiming a truck?”

Germann’s sentencing arguments included McCall’s participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and volunteering in hospitals since the incident. He noted that when Jim Miller came to ask for an apology, McCall gave it.

Jim Miller wasn’t happy that what was meant as a private moment and a chance for his own closure was mentioned in the context of helping McCall.

“I waited a year and nine months for an apology, and I had to ask for it,” he said.

The conviction is McCall’s first, and his breath-alcohol content measured 0.03 percent at the crash scene, below 0.08 percent, the level that someone is considered drunk.

Alexa said he had talked to the jurors in November, and they said deciding McCall’s conviction came after five hours of hard deliberation.

The Millers have filed a civil suit against McCall, seeking monetary damages.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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