Gilbert Waconda was sentenced to six months in prison for killing 19-year-old John Anczarski of Ringtown, PA, in June 2010. Anczarski was riding his bike in New Mexico on a cross-country trip to raise money for breast cancer awareness. The story about Waconda's sentencing originally comes from WNEP, along with this video clip.
This is a travesty on many levels. You have Waconda, who clearly shows NO remorse, and whose behavior towards the surviving family members is utterly disgusting. Then you have the charge of "negligent homicide," which provides a maximum penalty of only six months imprisonment.
I don't know the full details, so I can't really judge by anything other than what I see, but what I've seen in the clip above seems to show a sick man who admits to what he has done and who doesn't seem to feel anything other than regret that he got caught. Is he mentally ill? And if so, he clearly shows danger to the public. Why not lock him away for much longer? Was this legitimately a case of negligence or did Waconda purposefully strike and kill Anczarski?
I'd be willing to assume some fault on John Anczarski's behalf if it weren't obvious that the young man seemed to know what he was doing. This wasn't just some guy riding his bike around and not taking extra precaution, he looked to be well-prepared and capable of riding to the best of his abilities. The questions I'd like to know the answer to are, was he alone on the road, that day? Was he clearly visible in the lane? Was he riding safely and obeying traffic laws? Was there some sort of confrontation that precipitated the incident? Again, I'd like to know, was this just an accident, or did Waconda purposefully run Anczarski down?
As someone who entertains the thought of doing his own cross-country ride someday, things like this certainly weigh heavily on my mind. I don't believe justice was done. I believe that there are more people like Waconda out there who might now feel emboldened; who might feel they can drive recklessly and/or kill someone with their vehicle and get nothing more than a few months in jail for it. That sets a terrible precedent for others who might be mentally unstable and willing to commit murder for kicks. But, until I know more, this is all I can say.
My deepest sympathies go out to the Anczarksi family. As a fellow cyclist from NEPA, my thoughts are with them, this evening.