Commonwealth Journal

News Live

April 17, 2014

Local man receives 12 1/2 years in DUI death of teen

Somerset — An entire courtroom on Thursday was moved to tears by parents who spoke of the loss of their 19-year-old son during a sentencing for the man who pleaded guilty in his death.

William Wesley, Jr., 41, of Science Hill, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half-years in prison Thursday in connection with the death of Jacob Ebenstein, who was a Pulaski County High School senior just a month away from graduation.

“I’ve heard most of my life that I was a strong individual, but I learned this past year what strong is, when strong is the only thing you can be,” said Tina Ebenstein, Jacob Ebenstein’s mother. “One breath I might be able to talk and laugh about memories with precious Jacob, another I may break down and cry uncontrollably.

“I now face the man who took Jacob from everyone who loved him,” Tina Ebenstein added soon after.

Tina Ebenstein spoke of the memories she has of Jacob, one of four siblings. She described a charismatic, caring young man who wouldn’t hesitate to help a friend.

“It’s hard to believe Tuesday marked one year since I got the phone call every parent hopes they never receive,” she said.

Tina Ebenstein said on April 17, 2013 — exactly one year before Thursday’s hearing — she saw Jacob Ebenstein for the last time, during his funeral.

“(On) this day, I gave him one last kiss and told him farewell,” said Tina Ebenstein.

Tina Ebenstein described a charismatic, kind young man who would often go and help his friends with their cars.

“I do not feel that 12-and-a-half years is nearly enough for taking a life, especially since he will be eligible parole after such a short amount of time,” she said. “I have forgiven him ... I pray that Mr. Wesley uses the following years ahead to develop a closer bond with his loved ones, develop a personal bond with the Lord, as well as examine his past and changes that need to be made going forward.”

Wesley also gave a statement, breaking down into tears at one point.

“I know there are no words that can bring Jacob back and I know there is nothing I can say that will make you forgive me ... It is with the utmost sincerity that I pray God will help you ease the suffering that you may feel,” said Wesley.

“ ... To say I’m sorry is simply not enough, but I will say it anyway ... I am so, so sorry,” Wesley later added.

Wesley was operating a 1999 Hyundai eastbound on Ky. 635 on April 15, 2013 when he crossed into the path of a westbound 2003 Suzuki motorcycle driven by Jacob Ebenstein, according to the sheriff’s report at the time. Ebenstein, who was driving home from work, was ejected from the motorcycle.

According to Sheriff Todd Wood, he was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery, who prosecuted the case, said that, had the case continued to trial, evidence would have been presented that showed Wesley’s blood alcohol level was at .259. That is more than three times over the legal limit of .08.

According to the arrest warrant, Wesley smelled strongly of alcohol and told Deputy Charles Boston that he had been fishing and drank four beers within the last two hours.

But the case wouldn’t have centered on that. Montgomery said experts from both the prosecution and defense would have given testimony about Ebenstein’s speed when the accident happened.

Montgomery said his expert would have presented evidence that Ebenstein was traveling at or under the speed limit. Montgomery said the defense team’s expert would have suggested that Ebenstein was traveling at a much higher speed when his motorcycle and Wesley’s vehicle collided.

“Their issue would have been that he (Ebenstein) was speeding, which we don’t think he was,” said Montgomery.

Wesley in March pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and first degree criminal mischief. The manslaughter charge carries a 10-year prison sentence and the criminal mischief charge carries a two-and-a-half year sentence, which will run consecutively for the 12-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Burdette on Thursday said Wesley’s case “hits home,” and said probation would not have been appropriate.

Under Kentucky law, Wesley could be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence.

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