Emotions Ran High during Deputy Joe Armstrong's Sentencing

July 1, 2008 9:18:47 PM PDT
Last September three children were killed in a car accident north of Ivanhoe after Tulare County Corrections Deputy Joe Armstrong went through a stop sign.Armstrong was charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter. Tuesday, he was sentenced for the crime.

Tears flowed in the courtroom during the nearly two hour sentencing for Joe Armstrong.

It's possible the corrections deputy won't face any jail time. The probation department has 45 days to decide whether he'll spend 90 days in jail or have an ankle monitor on at his house.

Connie Woodward, Grandmother of Victims: "They were ripped from us, nobody really knows how it is to see your daughter's lifeless body in front of you. That's what I get to picture every night before I go to bed instead of tucking my kids into bed."

Connie Woodard read a statement from her daughter Tanya Rader, who lost her three young children in a car accident north of Ivanhoe. Austin, Hunter and Kylie Rader were only one, three and five years old.

Jim Woodward, Grandfather of Victims: "My wife still cries every day over these kids every holiday and birthday has become a somber event."

The Rader family was unhappy that the judge did not sentence Armstrong to the maximum sentence of three years in jail.

Armstrong blew through a stop sign at the intersection of Road 172 and Avenue 336 north of Ivanhoe back in September of 2007. Armstrong is a corrections deputy with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office and was on his way to work when the accident happened. Both Armstrong and Tanya Rader were also seriously injured in the accident.

In court, Armstrong made a long-awaited apology to the Rader family.

Joe Armstrong: "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it. I would give anything, give my life to bring them back."

Armstrong received a lot of criticism from the Rader family for not apologizing to them for their loss until now. Armstrong says he didn't know how.

Armstrong: "I didn't know how to say sorry for ruining your life for, for taking your kids lives, but I am sorry."

Joe Armstrong was also ordered to pay about $9-thousand dollars in restitution to the Rader family plus his driver's license is suspended.

The scene of the accident used to have a two-way stop sign. After the accident, county officials made it a four-way stop.


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