September 14, 2018 4:45 pm

‘I’ve seen too many of these cases’: Sobbing judge hands down 10-year sentence to drunk driver

ABOVE: A Wisconsin judge broke down into tears Tuesday during the sentencing of a man convicted of killing a woman and her daughter in a drunk driving accident.


Courtrooms are often the setting for intense, emotionally wrought scenes, usually involving the accused, the victim, or the family members thereof.

Rarely does it involve the judge presiding over the case. But that’s exactly what happened in a Wisconsin courtroom earlier this week after a judge handed down a 10-year sentence for drunk driving.

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“I didn’t know the family. I have no connection,” Judge William Atkinson addressed the court, his voice cracking as he fought back tears. “But I’ve seen too many of these cases. I’ve seen too many people suffer from drunk driving.”

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On Tuesday, Judge Atkinson sentenced David Meyer, 47, to 10 years in prison as a result of an Aug. 17, 2017, drunk driving incident which took the lives of two people.

According to court documents, Meyer’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit when his vehicle crossed the centre line and struck Rebecca Pennenberg, 44, and Raelia Pennenberg, 18, as they were walking in Lawrence, Wis.

Both were killed as a result of the crash.

“When I read the letters of the Pennenberg family…I understood their pain,” Judge Atkinson said between tears during sentencing. “I’ll never understand it fully, but I recognize the pain, and I can only imagine if my wife and my daughter did not come home one night.”

Meyers had previously pleaded no contest to two counts of homicide by use of a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration. In a brief statement to the court, he expressed remorse for his actions.

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“There is nothing I can say that will ease their pain. There are no words that I can say to give them any peace,” Meyers told the court.

“I’ve been and will continue to give people the understanding of what it means to drink and drive. I will continue to tell everyone I meet that when you drink, the first thing you lose is your judgment.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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