Ty William Thacker Fuller, 50, was sentenced Feb. 9 to nine-and-a-half years in prison after rear-ending a golf cart at high speed while traveling south on Wright-Bliss Road near State Route 302 on May 23, 2017, killing the golf cart driver, Gary Moody, 65, and injuring his passenger and the driver of a second vehicle.
Fuller fled the scene on foot to his home, a short distance away from the accident. His girlfriend convinced him to surrender to sheriff’s deputies waiting outside.
According to court records, Fuller had a blood alcohol content of 0.086 at the time of his arrest. The legal limit is 0.08. He was held on $1 million bail and remained in Pierce County jail.
Fuller pleaded guilty in January to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence. Deputy Prosecutor Neil Horibe asked for a sentence of 114 months, the top end of the recommended range of 86 to 114 months. Horibe said Fuller had two prior convictions for driving under the influence from 2003 and 2005, and had been treated for alcohol dependency.
Fuller’s attorney, Casey Arbenz, asked for a five-year sentence, well below the standard range, because Moody was driving an unlicensed vehicle and due to Fuller’s character. Fuller worked at a grocery store for 25 years, the last 15 as a night manager, and submitted 32 letters of support to the court from his friends, family and co-workers.
“He’s a good person,” Arbenz said. “He’s not a criminal.”
Julie Elmore, Moody’s ex-wife, read a statement before Fuller was sentenced.
“It is true that Gary had his own struggles with drugs and alcohol, and because of that many people have an understanding or compassion for you (Fuller) and what you have done,” she said. “Some say that Gary would forgive. And this may be true. But I am not one to forgive you for what you have taken away from my family.”
Fuller also read a statement.
“To the victims of that day, their family and friends,” he said through tears, “the events that transpired (were) tragic, heart-breaking and mine to be held accountable for. It was my careless, selfish acts that inflicted pain and sorrow. If I could bring back Mr. Moody’s life by taking my own, I would not hesitate…I have and will spend the rest of my life with overwhelming and relentless guilt. I am truly sorry for my horrible actions.”
“He (Fuller) wasn’t free to say how sorry he was any earlier, but I don’t have any doubt about that; I’m sure it was true the day it happened,” said Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck. “These are always really difficult cases because a whole group of people have lost a loved one, and a whole other group of people loses a loved one. Except he (Fuller) is still alive.”
Van Doorninck explained to Fuller why she thought a long sentence was appropriate.
“The things that are compelling to me are the prior DUIs and running away from the scene,” and the pain and suffering of the injured passenger and second driver, she said. “That doesn’t seem to really be accounted for in the low end of the range for me. I think 114 months is appropriate, I think it’s what the Legislature requires under the circumstances. And it’s hard. It’s going to be hard.
“You clearly are remorseful,” Van Doorninck said. “I’m really pleased that you’re going to AA meetings. I know that you’re going to be productive under the Department of Corrections.”