BEND, Ore. - Bret Biedscheid was booked into the Deschutes County Jail Wednesday to begin serving up to three months for fleeing the scene of a 2011 fatal hit-and-run crash that killed pedestrian Anthony "Tony" Martin.
Biedscheid was also sentenced Tuesday by Deschutes County Circuit Judge Roger DeHoog to serve three years of supervised probation, continue his psychotherapy for depression and perform 500 hours of community service for his agreement to plead guilty to leaving the scene of the accident.
The original charge of criminally negligent homicide was dropped in a plea deal that avoided a trial.
"There is nothing in this case that tells me Mr. Biedscheid caused the accident, or had he stopped as required by law, the outcome would have been different," DeHoog said, after explaining he could not impose a sentence based on the death of Martin or on unproven allegations that Biedscheid was driving impaired.
Before the judge imposed his sentence, Biedscheid tearfully read from a prepared statement, several times turning to address the Martin family in the courtroom.
"I stand before you today guilty of the offense of hit and run, as a result of my failure to perform the legal and moral obligation to fellow human being Anthony Martin," Biedscheid said. "I accept full responsibility for my inaction, and am prepared to accept the legal consequences you (the judge) think will be appropriate.
"It's of little comfort to me to understand I was not the cause of the accident. The man died, and I did not stop to help, if I could. And for this fact, I'll never forgive myself. To Mr. Martin's family, I'm so deeply sorry, I wish I could do something to relieve your suffering. I realize you may never forgive me, and I accept that as part of my punishment."
It's the first time we've heard publicly from Bret Biedscheid, 2 1/2 years after the violent crash on Third Street near Revere Avenue in Bend.
Longtime friend David Krause and Tony Martin's sister both tearfully asked the judge for the maximum sentence of 16 months in jail, as sought by prosecutors.
"We do not think the plea deal he struck was right," said Teresa Gibbs of Madras, Martin's sister. "If the tables were turned, my brother would not have left him in the street to die."
Biedscheid had a lot of support in the crowd, with his brother-in-law, neighbor, college roommate and wife Ellen Biedscheid all telling the judge he's a great family man and community member.
"The last 2 1/2 years have been truly difficult for Bret and our family," she cried. "it's hard watching Bret struggle through, at times, overwhelming situations. From the beginning, he's tried to do the right thing, and he's had to stand silently as his character and reputation were questioned."
Prosecutors revealed that the day after the crash, Biedscheid did computer searches for defense lawyers, a car repair shop, and news reports on the crash.
He deleted his Facebook page and hid his damaged, bloody truck in the garage, instead of leaving it in the driveway as he normally did.
Crash reconstructionists determined Biedscheid was going 37 miles per hour at the time of the crash, on a stretch of Third Street with a 35 mph speed limit.
But it was the allegation that a troubled Tony Martin caused his own death by stumbling into traffic with meth and marijuana in his system and a .22 blood alcohol level that the case hinged on.
Martin had several DUIIs of his own, spending time in jail for drug and alcohol infractions. The defense revealed Martin was under probation at the time of his death, and wasn't to be drinking or doing drugs.
Defense lawyer Stephen Houze of Portland told NewsChannel 21 after court, "Even though it wasn't Mr. Biedscheid's fault, nonetheless, he's been devastated by this and in the past 2 1/2 years has suffered.
"It was an unavoidable accident, unfortunately. Mr. Martin was highly intoxicated with drugs and alcohol, and wandered into traffic in the darkest part of Third Street."
The DA's office says it could not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the negligent homicide charge, and would have dropped it, had the case gone to trial.
We asked District attorney Patrick Flaherty what he would say to the people who say Biedscheid got away with killing someone.
After a long pause and sigh, Flaherty responded, carefully choosing his words: "There's a big distinction between causing someone's death and acting in a criminal way to cause death. We couldn't prove he was under the influence. And it does appear from the investigation, it was an unavoidable collision."
Biedscheid will report to county jail Wednesday. Attorneys say it's possible he'll spend less than the 90 days, with good behavior and a work release program that takes time off a sentence. When he's out, Biedscheid will have his drivers license revoked for five years.
He's chosen to do his 500 hours of community service at the Bethlehem Inn homeless shelter.