A Florida man was sentenced to five years in prison for a drunk driving crash that killed his 31-year-old wife on their first night out after she gave birth to their second child.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Matthew Notebaert of Loxahatchee will serve jail time for the 2014 car crash that killed his wife Amanda Notebaert, after the couple had been drinking and had sex in the car while Mr. Notebaert was behind the wheel.
A Palm Beach County judge reportedly said at the sentencing that the young mother’s death was one of “the most senseless, tragic acts” she had ever come across.
Amanda Notebaert died at the scene of the March 2014 crash after her husband sped down a dead-end road and crashed into a canal — after passing three warning signs about the canal. Amanda, who was naked from the waist down, died at the scene.
Matthew Notebaert was charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
The precise sequence of events has been difficult to determine from news reports of the sentencing, perhaps because Notebaert’s recollection was compromised by the alcohol and marijuana he reportedly consumed. He did not brake before the car drove into the canal, and had a blood-alcohol level of twice the legal limit.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Notebaert described the events of March 8, 2014 to a judge at his sentencing Wednesday, explaining that he had bought his wife concert tickets as a Valentine’s Day present the month before. Celebrating their first night out since Amanda had given birth to a daughter, their second child, the couple drank Crown Royal from a flask they smuggled into a concert. Driving back toward Loxahatchee, they called friends to meet up and at one point pulled the car over to have sex.
But it appears that Notebaert began driving again while the couple was still engaged in the act.
Amanda’s family and friends were torn about whether Notebaert, who has a criminal history that includes cocaine possession, burglary, and leaving the scene accident, should be put away.
Amanda’s adoptive father, Mike Stacey, reportedly said at the sentencing that his son-in-law should get the maximum allowable sentence.
“You had a responsibility to get your wife home safely,” Stacey said.
But friends of Amanda’s and her aunt disagreed, reportedly saying that Amanda would not have wanted her husband to go to jail, and noting that the couple had been “madly in love.”
In the end, the judge sentenced Mr. Notebaert to half of the recommended minimum sentence, considering his prior criminal history. According to the Palm Beach Post, even the prosecutors said that 10 years seemed excessive.