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Charles Pickett sentenced 40-75 years on all charges in Kalamazoo Bicycling Tragedy

A Kalamazoo jury found 52-year-old Pickett guilty on 14 felony charges in early May, including five counts of second-degree murder and five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death for the five people involved. (WWMT)

The driver convicted in the murders of the five people killed in the 2016 Kalamazoo biking tragedy, Charles Pickett Jr., has been sentenced up to 40-75 years on all charges as the judge called his actions "too violent and horrifying" to stick with the sentencing guidelines.

The five murder counts were ruled to be served in one concurrent sentence of 35 to 55 years. Pickett was also sentenced on five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death resulting in eight to 15 years along with four charges of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, resulting in a sentencing of three to five years. The multiple murder charges are set to run concurrent. The several OWI charges are to be served consecutively, although concurrent to the murder charges.

In total, Pickett will serve 40 to 75 years on the OWI causing death convictions.

With time-served, Pickett will be 90-years-old before he is eligible for the possibility parole.

A Kalamazoo jury found 52-year-old Pickett guilty on 14 felony charges in early May, including five counts of second-degree murder and five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death for the five people involved:

Debbie Bradley, 53, of Augusta; Melissa Fevig Hughes, 42, of Kalamazoo; Tony Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo; Larry Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo and Suzanne Sippel, 56, of Augusta.

The jury also convicted Pickett on four counts of driving while intoxicated causing serious injury.

The judge spoke about how he received over 70 pages of victim impact statements to review ahead of today's hearings.

Madeline Bradley, daughter of Debbie Bradley, said in her statement that the days after her mother's death are filled with grief and a lifetime of missing her more than she is able.

“My mother’s story does not end in tragedy, she lives on inside of me. I can feel it. I can feel it in my bones and in the tears that roll down my cheeks, and in every breath. She never left me. Not even for a single moment. That’s the story I want people to know," Bradley said.

Katherine Maino, Debbie Bradley's sister, also spoke about how although the event is tragic, it's important to keep the memories of the victims lost due to the incident never leave the forefront of our minds.

Pickett addressed the courtroom on Monday morning, expressing his remorse for the lives lost.

"I would give my life for the people I killed and murdered and maimed," Pickett said through tears.

Through the extent of the trial, Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Kanaby spoke to jurors about the more than a dozen close calls Pickett Jr. had with motorists in the hour leading up to the crash due to the high level of intoxicants - including muscle relaxers and pain killers - he had consumer prior to getting behind the wheel.

Paul Gobble, a survivor of the crash, spoke after the sentencing, saying he feels great about the results.

"I feel great to be able to, as far as I'm concerned, be the last time I have to come to the courthouse and the last time I have to deal with anything to do with Pickett and instead just be able to focus on riding for the love of it and being with our friends and family. I feel great," Gobble said.

Earlier this week, a memorial was unveiled along North Westnedge, near the Maple Hill Bike Trail and across from Markin Glen Park to honor the lives lost. The memorial was attended by the four surviving members of the crash: Paul Gobble, 47 of Richland; Sheila Jeske, 53 or Richland; Jennifer Johnson, 40 of Kalamazoo; and Paul Runnels, 65 of Richland.

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