CHANDLER, AZ — William Epperlein didn't speak as he left court today. In the courtroom, he pleaded guilty to running a red light, killing Pamela Hesselbacher and badly injuring her two small children. But because of what many considered legal loopholes, the offenses are mere misdemeanors.
"This is a tragedy, it's tragic for everybody including Mr. Epperlein," said Epperlein's attorney Alex Gonzalez, as they left court. "He'll respond and answer any questions at court next session."
That session is scheduled for March 5. That is when Epperlein is expected to learn his punishment. According to the judge, the maximum penalty in the case is 30 days in jail.
"He may just get a fine and get to go free," said Hesselbacher's mother, Jodi Kieran. "It's not justice."
Epperlein has a prior DUI conviction and didn't maintain his required high-risk insurance. His license was suspended at the time of the 2016 crash near Ray Road and Ponderosa Avenue. On Friday, he showed up 40 minutes late to his hearing.
"That shows he has no respect for the courts or the system or for the family to begin with," said Kieran.
Pamela's husband is raising the couple's two children on his own now. Ryan was three at the time, Audrey was one.
"They are doing ok. We just finished the holidays and that's really rough, but they are progressing," said Kieran. "The kids are still having difficulty with medical issues and counseling."
Kieran lobbied the legislature to change the law to impose harsher penalties on those who drive with a suspended license and commit traffic violations that result in serious injury or death. Pam's Law was passed last July. However, Epperlein will not face the stiffer penalties.
His sentencing is scheduled for March 5.