A Florida man whose wife died in a car wreck because he was driving drunk was sentenced to five years in prison. The pair were having sex while he was behind the wheel.
According to Daily Mail, 33-year-old Matthew Notebeart wept as Judge Laura Johnson handed down the sentence in the Palm Beach County courtroom on March 29. The judge called the reckless 2014 crash one of “the most senseless, tragic acts” she had ever come across,
On March 9th, Matthew crashed his vehicle into a canal bank after driving the vehicle off a dirt road. As his wife, Amanda, 31, was not wearing a seat belt, her head hit the windshield and dashboard, killing her.
She was declared dead at the scene.
Amanda had been sitting on her husband’s lap and having sexual intercourse with him while he was driving.
According to Matthew, the couple were having their first night out following the birth of their second child, a daughter. The couple had been to a music festival and were returning home.
Matthew had given his wife tickets to the March 8th music festival as a Valentine’s Day gift. That night, the couple drank from a small flask of Crown Royal whisky they had sneaked into the concert in her purse, Palm Beach Post reports.
As they headed back to their Loxahatchee home, they called friends to see if they’d hang out with them, but at one point decided to get intimate.
Matthew said he only remembers driving — his wife sitting in his lap — and then waking up in the wrecked car next to her body.
A toxicology report of Matthew’s blood found both an alcohol content level of 0.149, more than twice the legal limit, and the presence of “active marijuana THC.”
Amanda’s death led to a deep rift between the couple’s families and friends.
Amanda’s parents and grandmother blamed Matthew not only for the accident but for “taking bad advice” afterwards and keeping his two children away from Amanda’s relatives.
“You had a responsibility to get your wife home safely,” Amanda’s father, Mike Stacey, told Matthew in court before asking the judge to give him the “maximum allowable sentence.”
Close friends and an aunt of Amanda’s said the couple were madly in love and that she wouldn’t have wanted her husband to go to prison.
“I miss her more than words can express,” Matthew said of his wife in his plea to Johnson.
Matthew’s lawyer, Stephen Bell, asked for probation, rather than prison time, as well as the continued right to raise his now 12-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.
Assistant State Attorney Danielle Sherriff asked for a seven-year prison sentence.
In the end, Johnson took into account Matthew’s criminal history, which included incidents of reckless driving and leaving the scene of a crash. She also noted the five felonies he had been charged with, such as cocaine possession, burglary and grand theft.
“This isn’t your first chance. You’ve been to jail before, you’ve been on probation,” Johnson said. “You failed your wife, you failed your children and you failed all your family that is here today.”