By Tracy McNew
Richard Davidson was arrested following the death of Laura Cooper on March 14, 2017. He was driving under the influence of methamphetamines when he swerved into oncoming traffic causing a fatal traffic accident.
On the morning of the crash, Cooper was driving on Hwy. 56 toward Troy from Bull Lake. She was taking her son and his friend to school at Morrison Elementary and she was also scheduled to substitute teach that day. Cooper was killed in the crash, and the two boys in her car were both injured. One suffered neck and back injuries, the other a broken arm and leg.
Nearly a year later, family and friends of Cooper and of Davidson were given an opportunity to tell their stories and make recommendations to the judge at Davidson’s sentencing that was held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.
A total of six friends and family members made statements on behalf of the victim, Laura Cooper and the two young boys who were injured in the crash caused by Davidson.
County Attorney Marcia Boris and Deputy County Attorney Jeffrey Zwang represented the state and after Boris recapped Davidson’s prior run ins with the law, she recommended that Davidson be sentenced to 30 years with 10 of them suspended and 10 years served before he would be eligible for parole. This recommendation, she said, was the maximum allowable under Davison’s plea deal.
Public Defender, Nick Aemisegger represented Davidson. He interviewed Davidson and Davidson’s mother and read excerpts from letters of support for Davidson.
During his interview by Aemisegger, Davidson stated “I would do anything to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. I apologize.” He also stated “I would like the full 30 year sentence, I was just hoping we could suspend more.”
Aemisegger recommended a 30 year sentence with 25 years suspended.
Judge John Larson ruled at around 2:30 p.m. that Davidson would serve a 30 year sentence in Montana state prison with 10 years suspended, and parole restricted to only be eligible after 10 years are served. The judge said that Davidson will also receive credit for the 296 days that he has already served. He will also receive opportunities for treatment, and he will be eligible for community service to pay public defender fees.
By Tracy McNew