Spotted Wood To Serve 20 Days In Plea
September 28, 2007, 5:27 PM
A plea and sentence Friday in an alcohol furnishing case is giving a Sioux Falls mother closure.
Lisa Schaunaman's son Faron DeMarrias suffered severe brain injuries in a drunk driving crash a year and a half ago. DeMarrias' brother was behind the wheel, and a Food N Fuel clerk named Shaun Spotted Wood was the one who earlier that night sold him the beer.
On Friday, Spotted Wood pleaded no-contest to the furnishing charge and will spend 20 days in jail. But there's more to the story than appears on the surface.
The man who bought the beer, Richard Tuve is a former co-worker of Spotted Wood. Food N Fuel workers say they always assumed Tuve was 21 from the information on his job application. On top of that, Spotted Wood says Tuve showed him a fake ID when buying the beer.
But Spotted Wood agreed to a plea bargain, and Tuve's mother is just happy to move on.
In a quiet moment following his sentencing, Shaun Spotted Wood apologized to the woman who's followed the emotional case through 18 months of twists and turns.
"It's something I needed and will finally give me closure. And I wish him the best," Lisa Schaunaman says.
Quite a difference from Schaunaman's tone the last time Spotted Wood was in court. She's since learned the case is more complicated than she first thought.
"Shaun felt he wasn't guilty," Schaunaman says. "She's seen the other clerks sell Richard alcohol on numerous occasions and he felt he was old enough."
In court, Shaunaman said her family lost everything after the drunk driving accident that injured her son Faron. Faron's brother Richard Tuve has been struggling ever since. But the *accident is not why Spotted Wood was in court.
"We don't mean to diminish the accident, but that in our position was not Mr. Spotted Wood's fault," says Spotted Wood's lawyer Nichole Carper.
Spotted Wood pleaded no contest to furnishing alcohol. That means he's accepting responsibility for selling to a minor without admitting he's guilty. And by doing so, the prosecution agreed to drop a more serious charge Spotted Wood faced in an unrelated incident.
"Many times we end up entering a plea on something, not because we're admitting guilt, but because it's a fair balance between what we're looking for in a case and what the state's attorney's office is looking for in a case," Carper says.
That being said, Spotted Wood, who's had his own problems with alcohol, regrets the entire situation.
"My sympathies go out to the family. I completely apologize for what happened with the accident and Faron DeMarrias," Spotted Wood says.
"I do think it was sincere, and I do wish him the best, because I know alcohol can destroy people," Schaunaman says.
In addition to serving 20 days in jail, Spotted Wood will pay a total of $350 in fines. But Schaunaman said in court it's not fair he serves jail time, while charges were dropped against the other Food N Fuel clerks.
The state investigated the Food N Fuel in January for possible alcohol violations but did not find the workers negligent.
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