On June 19, 2018, Kevin Scott Spaulding failed to yield to a motorcycle on Interstate 15. The resulting crash killed 18-year-old Peyton Allen.
The next 15 months was a spiral of grief for Allen’s family as they buried their son and brother, learning to cope with his loss. On Tuesday the family shared their experience at Spaulding’s sentencing where each of Peyton’s parents and three siblings told the judge and Spaulding about the anger and emptiness his actions had left them with.
For killing Peyton, Spaulding will spend four months in jail for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. He was ordered to pay a fine of $500, far less than the amount Allen’s family had spent traveling to see him sentenced.
Marci Allen, Peyton’s mother, said that after her son’s body was taken to a funeral home, she wanted to comfort the person who hit him, and that she was reminded of a friend who once hit a child in a nonfatal accident.
“I wanted to comfort him because we all make mistakes,” Marci said.
When a mutual acquaintance did contact Spaulding for them, he reportedly blamed Peyton for the accident and did not apologize.
Anger at Spaulding and how he had delayed the court process was a consistent theme during the victim impact statements. Several of Peyton’s family members described how they had bought plane tickets or driven from other states to arrive for hearings, only for the case to be stretched out or for Spaulding to not show up. They added that Spaulding has an extensive criminal history including burglaries and traffic violations.
“All the care and attention has been paid to the defendant,” said Lexie Bulson, Peyton’s sister. “Peyton is a footnote in this trial.”
“Never have I felt any pain near or close to this grief,” said Tristan Allen, Peyton’s brother. “Not to mention how much Kevin Spaulding has made this crippling pain worse by avoiding the little punishment he seems to have gotten in the past and is currently getting.”
“I’m not sure what on earth was so important he couldn’t wait 2 seconds, but I sure hope it was worth it,” said Torie Allen, Peyton’s sister.
“It is very clear that Kevin has no idea of his actions and no responsibility to obey the law, and certainly has no accountability or desire to make amends or do the right thing to help our family gain closure,” said Travus Allen, Peyton’s father.
The court received 28 victim impact statements from friends and family, including the five read in the court.
Idaho Falls City Prosecutor Jeffrey Thomason said he was struck by Peyton’s age and that he did everything right before the crash. “There was essentially nothing Peyton could have done on his own that would have changed this outcome,” Thomason said.
Thomason said Spaulding’s actions didn’t amount to gross negligence, which would have made the crime a felony. He acknowledged that was little comfort for Peyton’s family.
According to the Idaho Supreme Court, gross negligence is defined as “carelessness that is so great that there was not just an absence of the ordinary care that should have been exercised, but a degree of negligence substantially greater than that which would constitute ordinary negligence.”
“If (the misdemeanor classification of the crime) is not enough of an insult to the victim’s family, then usually the potential sentence will satisfy that result,” Thomason said.
Defense Attorney Justin Oleson read the statement Spaulding sent to the family. Spaulding wrote he didn’t understand why it had been Peyton and not him who died. He asked the acquaintance between him and the family to tell them he was deeply sorry.
“That seems to me not a man who is uncaring, not a man who is flippant, but a man who feels deep regret and sincerity about the loss of that young man, wishing that he could have traded with him in that situation,” Oleson said.
Oleson argued that the prosecutor could not say with certainty whether Peyton acted correctly without witnessing the crash. His said both Spaulding and his girlfriend stated they did not see the motorcycle when pulling onto the interstate.
Spaulding gave a statement apologizing to the victims. He compared their experience to his own losing an uncle to a drunken driver.
“I would take his place in a heartbeat,” Spaulding said.
Magistrate Judge Stephen Clark sentenced Spaulding to a year in jail, suspending eight months of that sentence. He also ordered that Spaulding’s license be suspended for two years with an extra three years with a restricted license. He must serve two years on probation.