Augusta teen in drugged driving fatal sentenced to a year in jail

Jacob Lyons, 19, was sentenced to a year in jail, with five years of probation, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (WWMT)

An Augusta teen who pleaded guilty to driving high during a crash that killed his friend was sentenced Monday to a year in jail, and five years of probation.

Jacob Lyons, now 19, also must pay court costs.

Before the sentence was issued in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court this morning, Judge Paul Bridenstine told Lyons his behavior regarding the crash was unacceptable.

"This was not an accident, this was a product of your decision making," Bridenstine said. "You did not accept fault or the gravity of what had happened. You have gotten better since your arrest."

Lyons was behind the wheel in August 2016 when his car veered off the road, hitting two trees in Richland Township. His passenger, 17-year-old Conner Blinn, died at the hospital the next day. The crash occurred about 2:30 a.m. on North 32nd Street in Richland. Both had to be extricated from the vehicle by emergency responders. Drug tests later showed that Lyons was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.

Assistant Prosecutor Michael Kanaby sought a maximum sentence, telling Bridenstine that the fact that Lyons had marijuana and diazepam in his system and was traveling 75 miles per hour at the time of the crash was simply reckless. Kanaby, in a pre-sentencing agreement, sought 29-57 months for Lyons.

Connor Blinn’s mother, Marie Blinn, also addressed the court Monday. She said she tried to reach out to Lyons right after the crash. She said the family was not mad at him, but just wanted to know what her own son's final hours were like. She said the family was appalled by Lyons' lack of remorse, and angered by the social media posts saying Lyons was out partying.

"We had to watch in pure agony as you went on with your life, as you posted it to social media,” Blinn said. “Do you have any idea what kind of anger that creates?”

Both Kanaby and the Blinn family were hoping Lyons would receive a tougher punishment.

“You chose to take those drugs, you chose to get behind the wheel. You should pay the price,” Blinn said.

Conner Blinn’s sister Morgan also addressed the court, saying Lyons stole her brother and friend. She also said she hopes Lyons will suffer a fraction of the Blinn family’s pain.

“You gave him a death sentence, and handed us a life sentence,” Morgan Blinn said.

Lyons addressed the Blinn’s in court, apologizing for being responsible for the crash that killed their son.

“I will try to be a better person in life. I will continue to work hard,” Lyons said. “I’ll never forget Conner, and I want you to know that. I’m sorry.”

Lyons’ attorney said his client has made great strides in realizing the error of his ways in the past year.

“I have seen changes since January of 2017 that I am proud of, but never expected. He gets it now. He gets the fact that he has people to love and support him,” she said. “He was a promising young man, but he has made missteps. He understands what he did caused the death of his friend.”

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