D.J. Vasquez, whose father died after trying to intervene in a North Toledo bar fight, said families on both sides have been permanently affected by the events of Jan. 31.
He had mixed emotions Thursday after Carl Wimpey, Jr., 37, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the fight at Brew Ha’s bar on Telegraph Road where Vasquez’s father, Daniel, was fatally injured.
“I feel good about it, but I feel sad too because I realize that two families are affected,” Vasquez said. “Yes, I’m happy with the outcome. I’m sad that Carl’s daughters don’t get to see their dad the way they should.”
Wimpey was convicted in October of felonious assault for punching the elder Vasquez multiple times — the final blow leaving the man unconscious, never to wake again. A jury found him not guilty of murder and a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Cook gave Wimpey credit for 276 days, made no recommendation as to the possibility of parole, and ordered Wimpey be placed on post-release control for three years after prison.
“Quite frankly, there’s agony in all the families involved here,” Judge Cook said. “It’s going to be a lasting impact for both of them.”
The elder Vasquez’s nephew, Arthur Richter, Jr., 41, was previously found guilty of complicity to murder and inciting violence after prosecutors say he started the fight. Judge Cook sentenced Richter last week to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 15 years. Richter has indicated he intends to file an appeal.
On Jan. 31, an agitated Richter began spouting profanities at Wimpey and his friends. Following a verbal confrontation, Richter grabbed a pool stick and later chest-bumped Wimpey, according to trial testimony.
Wimpey punched Mr. Vasquez about six times while prosecutors said Mr. Vasquez was trying to stop the physical altercation and never threw a punch. Wimpey testified he felt Mr. Vasquez grab him from behind and believed him to be a threat.
Wimpey left the bar only to return when Richter threw two beer bottles at his friend’s vehicle. A left hook from Wimpey left Mr. Vasquez lying unconscious on the barroom floor.
In a prepared statement to the court and with his hands visibly shaking, the younger Vasquez described watching seizures rack his father’s body in his hospital bed while seeing the changes in brain activity as shown on a nearby monitor.
“It was the only communication he would ever have with me again,” Vasquez said.
The family removed life support after four days.
“Carl was the last person to look my dad in the eyes and my dad’s last memory was him,” Vasquez told the court, asking for the maximum sentence. “All the money in the world will never change what he has done. He must live with it and own it.”
A Lucas County deputy coroner testified Mr. Vasquez died of complications of blunt-force trauma to the head. Dr. Maneesha Pandey said Mr. Vasquez had a stroke, along with seizures, but the head trauma started other complications. An expert witness for the defense had provided a differing opinion, saying Mr. Vasquez died of a stroke caused by an increase in blood pressure during the brawl.
The defense maintained Wimpey was defending himself and asked for a minimum sentence of community service.
Judge Cook said after reviewing video of the incident, it was clear Wimpey and Richter were the aggressors and decided to engage and re-engage despite opportunities to walk away. He said Mr. Vasquez was clearly attempting to stop the confrontation.
The judge agreed that Wimpey showed genuine remorse. Throughout Thursday’s proceedings, Wimpey kept his eyes down and occasionally glanced at his attorney or the judge. He frequently wiped away tears as the hearing progressed.
“This never should have happened,” Wimpey told the court after apologizing to the Vasquez family and his own in a short statement. “If I could change anything, I would never have stepped in that bar that night.”
Mr. Vasquez said after the hearing he accepts Wimpey’s apology and hopes he uses his time in prison to become a better man. He said the Wimpey family seem to be good people and believes Carl Wimpey, Jr., is an alcoholic whose addiction was a primary factor in the events of that night.
“Most of the time, it’s not in here that wants to hurt somebody,” Vasquez said, pointing to his head. “It’s what you’re putting in your body that makes you make bad decisions. ... It wasn’t him. It was the addiction, and hopefully he can tame that beast and stay out of trouble.”
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