Man who killed Butte teen will be out of pre-release in weeks

2012-05-01T11:31:00Z 2012-05-06T16:30:18Z Man who killed Butte teen will be out of pre-release in weeksBy JOHN GRANT EMEIGH Montana Standard The Billings Gazette

BUTTE -- The man serving a 10-year sentence for a drunken hit-and-run accident that killed a Butte teen and injured two others has been granted parole after serving a little more than three years of his sentence.

The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole granted Wade Petersen parole during a hearing in Helena.

Petersen, 24, drove his pickup truck into three girls in Butte on October 2007. Mariah McCarthy was killed, and her friends, Kaitlyn Okrusch and Valarie Kilmer, were seriously injured.

Petersen will be released from custody on parole once he successfully completes the pre-release program in Helena, according to Julie Thomas, a senior parole analyst for the probation and parole board.

Petersen had his parole hearing in Helena on April 25. The final release date is unknown, but could take several weeks, Thomas said.

Until then, Petersen remains in the Helena Prerelease Center. He will remain on parole until September 2018, Thomas said.

Petersen was sentenced in January 2009 to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended for negligent vehicular homicide. Judge Brad Newman also sentenced him to the maximum of 10 years in prison for two counts of negligent vehicular assault and a hit-and-run charge involving death or personal injury.

Thomas explained that Petersen will be under enhanced supervision while on parole and will be subject to several restrictions. For example, he will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle and will not be allowed in Silver Bow County.

He also can't drink alcohol or be in a bar, must seek chemical dependency counseling, regularly meet with a parole officer and submit to random drug testing.

Parole board members John Ward and Darryle Dupius granted Petersen's parole.

Leo McCarthy, whose daughter, Mariah, was killed by Petersen, attended last week's parole hearing. He said he's disappointed in the justice system, but hopes Petersen will give something back once he is free.

"He owes a great debt to the people of Butte," McCarthy said.

He added that he's not sure if Petersen has accepted responsibility for his crimes.

"My daughter is still dead, and I don't know if he's atoned for it," McCarthy said.

His daughter's death resulted in a citywide program, Mariah's Challenges, which gives scholarships to students who agree not to use alcohol.

Jimm Kilmer, the father of Valarie Kilmer, also attended the hearing and said he takes some comfort in the restrictions placed on Petersen.

"The good news is he doesn't have driving prvileges and he can't come to Butte-Silver Bow," Kilmer said.

However, Kilmer said he thinks Petersen needs to spend more time in prison.

"I'm not a lock-him-up-and-throw-away-the-key kind of guy, but I don't think he spent long enough time for taking a human life," Kilmer said.

 

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