An Oklahoma teen convicted of manslaughter has sentenced to 10 years of probation, with requirements that include regularly attending church.
Tyler Alred, now 17, had been drinking when he crashed a pickup truck at around 4 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2011, Tulsa World reports. The accident killed Alred’s friend, 16-year-old John Luke Dum, who was a passenger in the vehicle.
Alred was not legally drunk, but because he was below the legal drinking age, he was still considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol. The high school student pleaded guilty in August to a charge of manslaughter as a youthful offender.
“I did not want to do what I did,” Alred told the court prior to his sentencing. “I want to change my life.”
Members of Dum’s family did not want to see Alred behind bars, the Muskogee Phoenix reported. “We don’t need to see two lives wasted for a mistake,” Dum’s sister, Caitlin, wrote in a statement.
Instead of sentencing the teen to prison time, Judge Mike Norman gave him a 10-year deferred sentence. In order to stay out of prison, Alred must graduate from high school; graduate from welding school; take drug, alcohol and nicotine tests for a year; wear a drug and alcohol bracelet, take part in victim’s impact panels, and attend church for the next 10 years.
This last requirement “raises legal issues because of (the separation of) church and state,” University of Oklahoma law professor Randall Coyne told the Tulsa World.
University of Tulsa law professor Gary Allison told KTUL that the church requirement “speaks to maybe forcing people to do religious activities that they would otherwise not do on their own free will … I don’t know why a church would want to have someone come to it under the force of government,”
This apparently isn’t the case for Alred, though. “My client goes to church every Sunday,” defense attorney Donn Baker told the court. “That isn’t going to be a problem for him.”