October 11, 1995 in Nation/World

Victim’s Parents Ask Leniency For Teen Driver 16-Year-Old Sentenced To Probation In Fatal Accident

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The hand-printed note reminds Beverly and Peter Finney to forgive.

“There are people that have walked into my life, that have given that extra hug, smile or thought and touched my heart,” it reads. “A lesson is learned about hope, forgiveness, caring.”

The Finneys’ daughter, Christina, 18, wrote the note before she died in a car accident five months ago.

With those two sentences in mind, the Finneys asked a judge Tuesday not to jail the girl whose vehicle hit their daughter.

Judge John Luster followed their wishes.

He sentenced Danielle Muncey, 16, to two years on probation without a driver’s license, 100 hours of community service and a $300 fine.

On June 1, Muncey, a Post Falls High School student, accidentally drove through a stop sign and rammed into Christina’s truck.

Christina, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown out of the vehicle and died days before she was to graduate from the same school.

Christina was a star track and cross country athlete, as well as a former Post Falls Junior Miss.

“I don’t think we could say in words what she meant to us,” her father, Peter Finney, told the judge Tuesday. “She was one in a million.”

He and his wife wore small golden angels pinned to their jackets. To them, the angels represented their lost daughter.

“She did serve as an angel during her life,” Beverly Finney said, tears tracing down her cheek.

“She was never like a normal child,” Peter Finney said, remembering that when Christina started running track she was 30 yards behind the other runners. By the end, she was breaking records. “God didn’t make many like her.”

On Tuesday, Muncey sobbed and trembled as she pleaded guilty to inattentive driving.

“We recognize as a family that a debt of responsibility needs to be met,” her father, David Muncey, told the judge.

He also told the judge how his daughter has woken every morning, thinking about Christina’s death.

“She has paid a debt every day,” he said through tears. “She is one in a million, herself.”

Judge Luster could have sentenced Muncey to up to six months in jail for the crime.

However, Peter Finney instead asked that the teen do community service: working with children or helping with athletics at the school.

Both families hope other teens learn from the accident.

“You have 3 and 4 thousand pounds of moving metal, you have to be responsible,” Peter Finney said.

David Muncey asked teens to remember to wear their seat belts.

At the sentencing hearing Tuesday, David Muncey thanked the Finney family for their mercy.

“We just couldn’t go against that note,” Beverly Finney said, explaining why they hadn’t asked for a stiffer penalty.

“That is what Christina was about.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)

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