Nevada Supreme Court upholds fatal Lyon County DUI conviction
Appeal Capitol Bureau
The 40-year sentence of a Lyon County woman convicted of being under the influence when she rolled her pickup and killed two children was upheld Thursday by the Nevada Supreme Court.
Kimberly Kautz, 32, received two consecutive 20-year prison sentences in January after pleading guilty to two counts of causing death while driving under the influence of a prohibited substance. Investigators said she had both alcohol and measurable amounts of THC – the active ingredient in marijuana – in her blood when she crashed the pickup. She said she hadn’t smoked marijuana for at least a week before the wreck.
Fautz challenged her sentence, arguing her due process rights were violated at sentencing when the judge admitted unsworn testimony from the mothers of the two victims who were killed and the father of another victim.
There were seven children in the bed of the truck and two more riding in the cab at the time of the wreck on Highway 95A in Silver Springs. They were returning from a day at Lake Lahontan.
Dani Jo Baker, 10, died at the scene and her cousin Jennifer O’Brien, 15, was taken off life support four days after the wreck. Kautz’s son Zachary Saylor, 11, suffered injuries including massive head trauma and spent a month in the hospital. He now lives with his father in Oregon.
The other six children, ranging from two to 11 years of age, suffered a variety of other injuries including broken bones.
The high court panel of Justices Bob Rose, Myron Leavitt and Bill Maupin rejected the argument, concluding any error in the admission of victim impact statements was harmless.
They said her lawyer didn’t object to the unsworn statements at the time of the sentencing hearing and “there is no indication that the district court based its sentencing decision on that unsworn testimony.”
“In fact, at the sentencing hearing, the district court specifically stated that the sentence was based on the fact that two children were killed and numerous others injured when appellant rolled her pickup after drinking and while having a level of THC in her blood above the legal limit,” the justices concluded.