CHEYENNE – A Cheyenne woman accused of seriously injuring a motorcyclist while driving under the influence was given a five- to seven-year prison sentence, suspended for five years of probation by Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell on Tuesday.
Ashtain Fleischhacker, 23, of Cheyenne was originally charged with DUI-serious bodily injury, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, misdemeanor open container while operating a motor vehicle and misdemeanor driving while under suspension in June 2019.
The state dismissed all other charges in exchange for Fleischhacker’s guilty plea to DUI-serious bodily injury. The agreement said both sides will recommend an imposed sentence of five to seven years in prison, suspended for five years of probation, which aligned with Campbell’s ruling.
Given Fleischhacker’s previous DUI, Campbell could have handed down a sentence up to 20 years. Campbell said the victim showed true remorse, and said probation would protect the public without sending her to jail. Fleischhacker will need to comply with the treatment aspects of the agreement in order to stay on supervised probation.
Campbell told Fleischhacker to dedicate her time to solving her issues with substance abuse, adding, “Nobody’s going to take any more risks in considering probation.”
The decision came after hearing victim testimony from the man Fleischhacker hit and his 16-year-old daughter. After the incident, the victim could no longer work due to his disability, and he spent three months in the hospital recovering.
He said he lost all vision in one eye, and doctors had to piece one side of his skull back together. Doctors recently discovered a second traumatic brain injury from the incident, and he said he has consistent nightmares about getting hit.
“I’ve done more time in the operating room than you’ve done behind bars for your stupidity,” he said. “How is that justice?”
Afterward, his daughter shared the story of how she learned what had happened. Her dad sent a text message that he was on the way to pick her up from work, but he never showed up.
“I started to worry. He was never late to get me,” she said. “Thirty minutes had then passed, and I knew something was wrong.”
She shared the details of the hours she spent in the hospital, waiting for her dad to get out of surgery. In the months that followed the traumatic incident, she would go to the hospital every spare moment she had.
“Because it was worth it. Every second was worth it, because I didn’t know when his last second would be,” she said.
Both she and her father noted the financial hardships the hit-and-run caused, saying the 16-year-old’s job was the only reason their bills were paid. She said that instead of saving for college, her money was now going toward keeping their family afloat.
“You took my whole world from me,” she told Fleischhacker.
Fleischhacker read a letter she had prepared after hearing the testimony from the victims, taking full responsibility for the harm she has caused. Since the crash, Fleischhacker said she has been attending an intensive outpatient treatment program and has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous twice a week.
While she plans to stay on the right path, Fleischhacker said, “I will forever carry the weight that I ruined a family’s life.”
Campbell ordered $66,595.74 in restitution to be paid to the victim.
Also heard in Laramie County District Court on Tuesday:
A man accused of killing three people and injuring another in a car crash on Wyoming Highway 210 was denied a reduction in bond by Campbell.
Jason Hanson, 20, of Cheyenne is facing three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of attempted aggravated vehicular homicide stemming from an incident in April 2019. Ericka Smith, Hanson’s attorney, asked Campbell to reduce the bond to 10% or to a cash or surety bond.
Smith told the court Hanson has an infant daughter to take care of, and argued that he was not a flight risk. She noted that COVID-19 has impacted Hanson’s right to a speedy trial.
“It’s my understanding that the previous bond argument at arraignment made an argument that he was perhaps a flight risk, because these are very serious charges. Whereas, you know, three people were killed and one was gravely injured, and he stayed in the community for eight months while this investigation was ending,” Smith said.
On the other hand, Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove said Hanson’s incentive to flee changed when the state announced the charges.
“This wasn’t an accident; this was a vehicular homicide,” Manlove said.
Two motorcycle riders and the passenger in Hanson’s vehicle were killed when Hanson allegedly swerved into the eastbound lane on Highway 210 from the westbound lane. Another motorcycle rider was seriously injured, and THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, was later found in Hanson’s system.
Campbell agreed with Manlove’s argument, saying that no one wants a person who committed a “horrible crime” loose in the community.
On the $25,000 bond, Campbell said, “I’m not sure even that’s enough to keep him when the fear sets in that he may never be a free man again.”