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West Jordan • A Draper man convicted of murder for causing a fatal crash while driving drunk last year tearfully apologized Wednesday, saying he was ashamed and embarrassed by his actions that day.
"If there was anyway I could take back the pain and suffering I caused, I would," Bill Robert Thompson said minutes before he was sentenced to prison for up to life for his crime.
The words did not appear to ease the pain of Jon Madsen, who lost his wife, Susan, in the collision, which also critically injured his 13-year-old daughter. He told 3rd District Judge L. Douglas Hogan that the loss of his wife of 20 years has been devastating to him and their five children.
"My kids will never see her again," Madsen said. "They'll go to a gravesite and look at a stone in the ground."
And his sister-in-law, Michele Brees, who moved to Utah to help take care of the family, said the death was not an accident.
"Not a moment goes by that I don't miss my best friend," Brees said of Susan Madsen.
Thompson, 45, was found guilty by a jury in June of first-degree felony murder, as well as two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault in connection with the May 2014 death of 43-year-old Susan Madsen.
In addition to a 15-years-to-life term for the murder count, Hogan ordered Thompson to serve a consecutive 0-to-5-year stint for the other charges.
The judge noted, "There are no winners in this courtroom today."
After the hearing, Madsen told news reporters he was pleased with the sentence, adding: "We just don't want this to happen to anyone else."
Defense attorney Rudy Bautista said he plans to ask an appeals court to amend the murder conviction to a lesser charge of automobile homicide. He said Thompson has always taken responsibility for his actions and the only argument was over what the charge should be.
"This was a tragic mistake," Bautista said.
Prosecutors initially charged Thompson with murder and 14 other felony and misdemeanor counts for the May 8, 2014, death of Madsen in a collision at the intersection of 12300 South and Lone Peak Parkway in Draper.
On the first day of trial, Thompson entered guilty pleas to 11 of the counts: one count of third-degree felony driving under the influence of alcohol, seven misdemeanor DUI counts, and two counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of misdemeanor domestic violence in the presence of a child, for which he was sentenced to time served on Wednesday.
In entering the DUI pleas, Thompson acknowledged driving negligently and under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content level of 0.22, well over the legal limit of 0.08.
Prosecutors said Thompson accelerated through a red light at the intersection and slammed into an SUV driven by Madsen.
Thompson's 7,500 pound pickup truck hit Madsen's 4,000 pound SUV with such force that the Draper woman's brain stem was severed, causing a nearly instant death, prosecutors said.
The collision also caused a chain of other smaller accidents that left seven other motorists with minor injuries.