A Muscatine man was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison for fleeing the scene after hitting and killing a Muscatine couple on a motorcycle in Illinois City in May 2015.
Judge Norma Kauzlarich sentenced Robert P. Darrow to 12.5 years each for the deaths of Kevin D. Diehl, 42, and Dawn A. Korch, 37, during an emotional 90-minute hearing at the Rock Island County Justice Center.
The judge ordered the sentences to run consecutive, or back-to-back, because of the nature and circumstances of the incident. What troubled her the most, she said, is that he ran from the scene after the crash.
“That you could have possibly stayed and maybe rendered some aid … it may have made no difference, sir, but at least you would have stood up and taken responsibility,” she said.
Darrow, 42, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of failure to report an accident, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison.
About 8:30 p.m. May 17, 2015, a silver 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix was headed east in the 26000 block of 124th Avenue near Illinois City when it crossed the center line, striking a 2013 Harley-Davidson motorcycle traveling west, according to the Rock Island County Sheriff's Office.
The operator of the motorcycle, Diehl, 42, and his passenger, Korch, 37, were thrown from the motorcycle. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Darrow fled on foot. Deputies discovered that the Grand Prix was registered to a relative of Darrow’s girlfriend, who told investigators she sold the car to him two days earlier for $800.
There were no witnesses to the crash.
Darrow, facing the families in the courtroom gallery during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, tearfully said that he reacted out of fear and shock that night and that “I’m never just going to leave somebody hurt — that’s not me.”
He talked about an accident in Michigan years ago that killed his young son, Tyler. Darrow, he said, had been driving with the sun in his eyes and had turned into front of a truck, which tore the car in half.
“I feel your pain,” he said and asked the families for their mercy and forgiveness.
For the crash involving his son, Darrow was charged with negligent homicide in Michigan and was later sentenced to a year in county jail.
Assistant State’s Attorney Heidi Weller noted Tuesday that the day of the crash that killed Diehl and Korch was the day Darrow’s son would have turned 21.
“While he paints the picture here in court today of having taken an impulsive action because of fear and shock, this is not an individual who went home, came to his senses and called the police right away,” she said.
Darrow’s attorney, Herb Schultz, asked for a sentence of probation or a minimal prison sentence. Although Schultz said that his client was a “coward” for running that night, he was not a vicious killer and did not contemplate that his actions would cause serious harm.
Diehl’s ex-wife, Alyshea Gow, told the judge Tuesday about the impact his death has had on their sons, Grant, 10, and Connor, 8.
Gow said that about an hour before the crash, Diehl had been sending videos via his cellphone to Grant of monster truck show that he had taken the boys to see the night before. Around 7:41 p.m., he sent a text saying, “Love you bud,” Gow said.
“Approximately 30 minutes later, you killed him,” she said. “You killed him with no remorse. You let him just lay there and die at the side of the road. What kind of person does something like that?”
Darrow has 30 days to file a notice of appeal.