Springfield DWI Fatal Incident: Man Sentenced 15 Years

A man from Springfield has been given a prison term of 15 years after causing a fatal accident while under the influence of meth in 2021, leading to the death of Amber Kendall (25) and Felix Gonzalez (57). The accused, Gary Calhoun (66), submitted Alford pleas for driving while intoxicated and causing the death of more than one person.

An Alford plea under Missouri law signifies that, while the defendant does not admit the crime, they acknowledge sufficient evidence against them for possible conviction. Substituting for Judge Kaiti Greenwade, Judge Joshua Christensen sentenced Calhoun on April 1 for the felony charge and an additional 180-day sentence for misdemeanor DWI, to be served concurrently.

Calhoun was arrested in January 2023, over a year following the fatal accident in August 2021, and has been held at the Greene County Jail ever since. Calhoun was charged a year after being arrested for drunk driving in July 2022, due to lethal crash evidence. Following another driving incident while intoxicated, Calhoun tested positive for meth.

On the fatal day in August 2021, Calhoun reportedly had meth in his system when he crossed into the opposing traffic lane, colliding with Kendall’s car. Kendall died after her vehicle rammed into a truck driven by Gonzalez following the initial collision.

At Calhoun’s sentencing hearing, images and detailed diagrams from the scene of the accident were used to highlight the severe impact of the crash, which flung Kendall’s vehicle into the air and into the drive cabin of Gonzalez’s semi-truck. Calhoun’s sentence, argued First Assistant Prosecutor Zachary McFarland, would serve as a deterrent for others contemplating drunk driving.

The court case went through the system very slowly, to the dismay of the victims’ colleagues. They expressed their frustrations and hard experiences, waiting for more than two years for justice to be served.

Calhoun’s attorney, Chantel Kelly, sought a lenient sentence for her client on the basis of his personal life. Kelly detailed that Calhoun was a part of a close-knit military family and that he only started using meth after his marriage crumbled.

Before sentencing, Calhoun, appreciating the weight of his circumstances, addressed the court and expressed deep sorrow for his actions. After the hearing, Felix Gonzalez’s widow, Mirna Gonzalez, said she was content with the judge’s decision, stating “justice had been served”. While she admitted she would have wanted a heavier sentence, she understood that the judge had given Calhoun the maximum sentence permissible.

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