Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The husband of artist Reiko Hervin is concerned that a deal is in the works that will see the man charged in connection with her fatal accident get too light a sentence.

Hervin, 51, was severely injured in a Nov. 6 accident when a trailer carrying a Jeep became detached and entered the oncoming lane near Jack Wright Pass on Highway 208, colliding with her vehicle.

The Smith Valley artist was on her way home from a Minden art show when the accident occurred. She died Nov. 30 at Renown Regional Medical Center from injuries she received in the collision.

The accident is the subject of an ongoing investigation conducted by the Nevada Highway Patrol, prosecutor Karen Dustman said Monday.

Gardnerville resident Jon Eugene McElhaney, 35, is charged with being in control of a vehicle while being under the influence of an intoxicating liquor resulting in death or substantial bodily harm.

McElhaney is free on $15,637 bail. At an April hearing, McElhaney's attorney Tod Young said the accident could be traced to an equipment failure. McElhaney is considered innocent until proven guilty by the state.

Because the case has not yet gone to a preliminary hearing, Dustman said there wasn't much she could reveal.

A preliminary hearing scheduled for July 13 has been delayed because a witness won't be available. Another hearing date has yet to be set.

Hervin's husband Kurt said he was contacted by prosecutors last week and told there was a possibility of a plea agreement that would recommend three years. Under Nevada law, McElhaney faces 2-20 years in prison.

Hervin has a copy of a Nevada Highway Patrol report in which the narrative has been blacked out. No copy of the report is in the court file.

“The defense said the guy never left his lane and the trailer just came undone,” Hervin said. “It seems that the district attorney is saying that the guy doesn't need to be rehabilitated. That he's an OK guy. I think they're treating it much too lightly.”

Hervin said he felt the proposed sentence is much too light.

“It's beyond unreasonable,” he said. “It's ridiculous. Why are you putting me and my son through this?”

Even if the prosecution and defense agree on a deal, the sentence in a plea agreement is only a recommendation to the judge, who makes the final decision, after a pre-sentence report prepared by the state department of parole and probation.

Hervin just returned from bringing Reiko's ashes home to her native Japan. He said a drunk driving conviction carries a 10-year sentence in Japan.

“The number of drunk drivers went way down,” he said. “People knew if they screwed up they would be doing hard time.”

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