Tyler Alred Sentenced To Go To Church After Manslaughter Conviction
An Oklahoma teen convicted of manslaughter has sentenced to 10 years
of probation, with requirements that include regularly attending church.
Tyler Alred, now 17, had been drinking when he crashed a pickup truck
at around 4 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2011, Tulsa World reports. The accident
killed Alred's friend, 16-year-old John Luke Dum, who was a passenger in
Alred was not legally drunk, but because he was below the legal
drinking age, he was still considered to be driving under the influence
of alcohol. The high school student pleaded guilty in August to a charge
of manslaughter as a youthful offender.
"I did not want to do what I did," Alred told the court prior to his sentencing. "I want to change my life."
Members of Dum's family did not want to see Alred behind bars,
the Muskogee Phoenix reported. "We don't need to see two lives wasted
for a mistake," Dum's sister, Caitlin, wrote in a statement.
Instead of sentencing the teen to prison time, Judge Mike Norman gave
him a 10-year deferred sentence. In order to stay out of prison, Alred
must graduate from high school; graduate from welding school; take drug,
alcohol and nicotine tests for a year; wear a drug and alcohol
bracelet, take part in victim's impact panels, and attend church for the
next 10 years.
This last requirement "raises legal issues because of (the separation
of) church and state," University of Oklahoma law professor Randall
Coyne told the Tulsa World.
University of Tulsa law professor Gary Allison told KTUL
that the church requirement "speaks to maybe forcing people to do
religious activities that they would otherwise not do on their own free
will … I don't know why a church would want to have someone come to it
under the force of government,"
This apparently isn't the case for Alred, though. "My client goes to
church every Sunday," defense attorney Donn Baker told the court. "That
isn't going to be a problem for him."