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Driver gets 9 months for violating probation

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 2:14 pm

JUNEAU, Alaska - A young man convicted of negligent homicide in a drunken driving accident in which a childhood friend was killed was sentenced to nine months in prison for violating probation.

Thomas Tyler Emerson, 21, was sentenced in Juneau on Tuesday after admitting he violated probation in September. A police officer pulled over Emerson for speeding on North Douglas Highway in June. His blood-alcohol level showed he had been drinking, according to Thursday's Juneau Empire ( ).

Emerson apologized during Tuesday's hearing.

"I showed another horrible lapse of judgment, put the safety of others in danger, and I'd just like to offer an apology to those affected, this court and the community in general," he said.

According to prosecutors, Emerson was drunk in 2009 when he lost control of his car on Glacier Highway and childhood friend Taylor Bristol White was ejected and killed. He pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and received a six-year sentence with five years suspended.

Emerson avoided jail time by serving his one year in a halfway house and by wearing an electronic monitor. He was released from custody in May 2011 and placed on probation for five years. He was not to drink while on probation.

The plea deal requires Emerson to serve five more years of probation and enroll in an 18-month therapeutic court program for drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Emerson told the court in a letter that he had turned to alcohol as a temporary relief from his overwhelming sense of survivor's guilt. He said he succumbed to peer pressure by drinking the night he violated probation.

Emerson's attorney, Jeffrey Sauer, said his client's behavior surprised many people, especially since he was doing well on probation at the time. He was enrolled in school and had a job at a shop downtown.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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