Karen Stelly fought for years to see that the man responsible for her son’s death served an appropriate amount of time behind bars, so she was dismayed to learn he was about to be released from jail after just nine months.
She was sitting in court on Thursday when Sean Holloway’s sentencing in the vehicular homicide case came before a judge. And she was pleased when the judge ruled there would be no “good time” early release for Holloway — that he’d have to spend most of his four-year sentence in prison.
Holloway, in August 2007, crashed his truck into a vehicle driven by Stelly’s son, Shawn Lancon. Lancon was injured near the Duson home he shared with his family, including Stelly. Lancon was pronounced dead at a Lafayette hospital Aug. 10, 2007. He was 22.
Stelly said Thursday outside a courtroom that she tried for years to get Holloway prosecuted in a case that endured delay after delay. She said that during those years, she felt “very angry, very hurtful.”
“They kept postponing things, like this boy (Holloway) did nothing wrong,” Stelly said.
Holloway pleaded guilty in January 2014 and was sentenced May 20. Stelly said she felt relief at the time because she was assured Holloway would serve 85 percent of three years — about 30 months — of the sentence.
Then, recently, she found out Holloway was scheduled for a “good time” release just nine months after he was locked up.
“Eighty-five percent. That’s what I was told he should get. I mean, my son didn’t get good time,” Stelly said.
Judge Marilyn Castle last year sentenced Holloway to four years in prison at hard labor, with one of those years to be served under home incarceration. After corrections officials scheduled Holloway’s good time release, Assistant District Attorney Roger Hamilton asked Castle to clarify the sentence.
“The defendant was convicted of a crime of violence and should be serving 85 percent of his sentence,” Hamilton wrote in a motion.
Castle said Thursday she had sentenced Holloway with the understanding that the jail term fell under the state Supreme Court’s “crime of violence” ruling. That opinion came out of a case called State of Louisiana v. Craig Oliphant, where the court said vehicular homicide was a crime of violence that merited serving 85 percent of a sentence.
“I’m not sure why this came back to me,” Castle said, referring to Holloway’s sentencing. “It was a crime of violence. … The DOC should know that.”
Nearby, his hands and wrists shackled, Holloway sat in a red-and-white prison jumpsuit. He had been transported from Richwood Correctional Center in Monroe, where he’s serving his sentence.
Holloway’s attorney, Allison Prejean, argued the 85 percent threshold doesn’t apply to Holloway.
“I guess you’re reading Oliphant differently than I am,” Castle replied.
Castle ruled that Holloway should serve a little over 30 months of the 36-month prison sentence. But it was unclear Thursday what will happen next.
Prejean said after the hearing that it’s up to the state Department of Corrections on how long Holloway would remain in jail. Prejean also said she would consult her client and that she might file writs to request an appellate hearing.
Outside the courtroom, members of Holloway’s family huddled around Prejean, then left without commenting to media.
“They have remained quiet,” Prejean said of Holloway’s family. “They have taken the high road since 2007.”
Stelly said Holloway’s family has it good compared to her family.
“They can go visit him in jail,” Stelly said. “I can’t go visit my son. He’s in the ground.”