Prison sentence to be shortened for intoxicated driver
In 2005, when he was sentenced, Bryan Gooldy, then 46 years old, had no chance of being released from prison prior to 2024 and could have been there until 2044.
But because of a petition filed in August by the Indiana State Public Defender’s Office, Gooldy could be released as early as November 2014.
On Nov. 9, 2004, he collided with 24-year-old IU alumna Kate Comiskey’s car, killing her on her way to work at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar, Ind. Comiskey was the daughter of IU journalism professor Nancy Comiskey.
Gooldy’s blood tested positive for cocaine, heroin and benzodiazepine.
When he was tried, he was treated as a repeat offender, which caused his 20-year sentence for the death to be extended to 40 years. This 40 years is equivalent to 20 “real years,” Nancy Comiskey said, because it is possible and common for prisoners to be released as early as half-way through their sentences.
What the judge, prosecution and defense did not know was that in 2001 the Indiana General Assembly changed the laws regarding repeat offenders to exclude most repeat drug offenses, thus making him ineligible to receive that additional 20 years. This brings Gooldy’s total sentence to 20 years, which is 10 “real years,” allowing him to be released as early as 2014.
“This is a man with 10 convictions, who because of the way the law is written, is not seen by the law as a habitual offender,” Comiskey said.
The petition filed in August revealed that Gooldy was sentenced for 20 years based on a law he did not break, namely the repeat offender statute.
“Had the prosecution here known that that law had been changed, there’s another statute here for habitual substance abuse offenders,” Comiskey said.
If Gooldy had instead been prosecuted under the repeat substance abuse offenders statute, he could have faced eight more years, giving him a total of 28 years in prison.
But now that’s not an option.
The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office had only two options after the petition was filed. It could remove the 20-year repeat offender sentence, or it could try the case again.
“That was not the rational choice if there was an alternative,” said Bob Miller, chief deputy prosecutor for Monroe County.
Comiskey said no one wanted to re-prosecute Gooldy because there was a chance he would be given a not guilty verdict.
“We were afraid something could go wrong with the blood test or something,” she said.
Comiskey said she and her family are unhappy with the petition and its effect, and that the prosecutor’s office handled the situation poorly.
“We were not informed,” she said. “The victims rights statute requires that the prosecution inform the victim or the victim’s family about all proceedings and hearings.”
But Comiskey said the prosecutor’s office conducted proceedings after the August petition before notifying the family on Feb. 7, two days prior to a court hearing.
“He (Miller) claims he was trying to protect us from worry until he knew it was serious. I think that’s kind of ridiculous,” she said.
Comiskey said that on Jan. 21, Gooldy was offered a reduced, 28-year sentence without the input of her family. She said Miller told her Gooldy turned down the offer.
Miller said no such offer was made and that the way the prosecutor’s office handled the case was routine.
“We weren’t negotiating with them,” Miller said. “This is really a straightforward scenario.”
Miller said changing Gooldy’s sentence to 20 years was the simplest way of solving the problem.
Comiskey said she just wants to make sure her daughter’s memory is honored through justice and that the rights of victims’ families are upheld and expanded.
“I miss her,” she said. “We live with it every day. It’s not like when you lose a mother or father or even a brother or sister. It doesn’t get any better.”
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