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Spare sentenced to 25 years

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 11:01 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017 10:50 a.m. CDT
Donna Jo Spare is assisted to her chair by Jail Administrator Dorie Shiltz during her sentencing hearing held Friday morning at Union County Courthouse. Spare was sentenced to 25 years after being charged with vehicular homicide for an incident that occurred in January 2016 and caused the death of Deanne Lee Hoffman.

Donna Jo Spare, 62, of Afton was sentenced to 25 years during a sentencing hearing 9:30 a.m. Friday at Union County Courthouse.

Spare pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle, a class B felony, during a plea hearing Feb. 24, which led to the sentencing hearing.

“I’d like to apologize to the family,” Spare said. “I would just like to tell you all how sorry I am and I didn’t mean for this to happen. I truly didn’t.”

Spare’s plea came after an eight-month investigation into a 2016 collision. According to a Union County Sheriff report, at about 9:15 p.m. Jan. 16, 2016, Spare was driving a 2001 Chevrolet on Highway 34 east of Creston. Near the intersection of Highway 34 and Jaguar Avenue, Spare crossed over the center line into the westbound lane of traffic. Spare’s vehicle struck a vehicle operated by Deanne Lee Hoffman.

Hoffman died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision.

Assisting in the investigation were Creston Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa State Patrol, Creston and Afton fire departments and Greater Regional Medical Center.

Subsequent investigation by Iowa State Highway Patrol officers indicated the blood alcohol concentration of Spare was in excess of .08 at the time of the collision, and Spare was officially charged on a Union County warrant in August 2016.

“Ordinarily, the court would have several sentencing options. In this particular case, I do not,” said Judge Randy Hefner. “By Iowa law, law requires that you be sentenced to an indeterminate period of incarceration not to exceed 25 years. I will state for the record that having reviewed the presentence investigation report, that even if I had discretion, I would not exercise that discretion by suspending the sentence. That’s based upon your age and the circumstances of the offense.”

Victim impact statements were also filed by the victim’s sister, sister-in-law and husband.

“The goals of sentencing are to protect the community from further offenses by you and to provide an opportunity to address the issues which led us all here today,” Hefner said.

Spare received 23 days’ credit to her sentence for time already served, and could be eligible for parole by Iowa law. She will be transported to Iowa Correctional Institution for Women by Union County Sheriff’s deputies before the end of the week.

Spare must also submit to drinking and driving programming, will have her driver’s license revoked for six years and owes $150,000 in restitution to the estate of Hoffman.

“This is one of those events that there’s a certain probability when you get behind the wheel when you’re drinking that bad things are going to happen,” Kenyon said. “In a case like this, it’s just tragic from a lot of perspectives. There were losses from both families. And it’s really one that the tragedy is one that’s avoidable. ... This was one of those cases that was an avoidable tragedy. But, people made decisions and consequences flowed from those decisions.”

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