Defendant sentenced to 49 years for fatal crash
A man has been sentenced to more than 49 years in prison in connection to a deadly pursuit in Leavenworth County.
Anthony Jay Dorsey, 31, Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced Friday for a charge of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 49 years and four months in prison.
The charge stemmed from a Sept. 30, 2019, crash on Interstate 70 in southern Leavenworth County that resulted in the death of Nathan Pena, 19, Brookfield, Illinois.
Dorsey, 31, was being pursued by a state trooper at the time of the crash.
The pursuit began in neighboring Wyandotte County. A trooper reportedly attempted to stop Dorsey for an expired tag from the state of Missouri.
After the pursuit had crossed into Leavenworth County, Dorsey reportedly made a U-turn on the interstate and began traveling east in the westbound lanes. His vehicle collided with a car driven by Pena, who died at the scene.
After the crash, Dorsey fled on foot but was quickly apprehended.
Dorsey previously was charged with first-degree murder. But the charge was amended as part of a plea agreement.
He entered into the plea agreement Aug. 9, the morning his case was scheduled to go to trial.
The 49-year prison sentence was recommended as part of the plea agreement. District Judge Gerald Kuckelman said this was considered to be the mitigated sentence under the state's sentencing guidelines.
Kuckelman said Dorsey will receive credit for the 717 days he has spent in jail since his arrest after the crash.
Several family members of the victim spoke during Friday's sentencing hearing.
"Losing Nathan almost two years ago has altered my life forever," said Jennifer Pena, the victim's mother.
She said her son's future was taken from him for no reason.
"Those of us who knew him will miss him forever," she said.
Alex Pena, the victim's father, said he has "many memories of a happy young man with a huge heart and a warm smile."
"His loss has caused so much pain, so much agony," said John Pena, grandfather of the victim.
John Pena said his grandson had been on vacation at the time of his death. He had visited friends in Missouri and was on his way to see friends in Colorado.
"A grandson is not supposed to die before his grandfather," John Pena said.
Chris Meier, the victim's grandmother, and Joey Pena, the victim's aunt, also spoke during the hearing.
Clinton Lee, Dorsey's attorney, said it was hard not to get emotional when hearing the statements from the victim's family.
"To say that this is a tragic case is a huge understatement," Lee said.
Lee said he wanted the family members to know that his client was not a monster. Lee said there is video of the moment Dorsey learned Nathan Pena had died.
"He was devastated, and you could tell it was genuine," Lee said.
The defense attorney said there is nothing Dorsey can say to bring back Nathan Pena.
When given the opportunity to speak, Dorsey said he deeply and sincerely apologized for his actions. He said it was not his intent to take a life.
Dorsey said he prays the victim's family can one day forgive his actions.
Kuckelman said he hopes Dorsey's statement was sincere.
"Your thoughtless action has caused terrible pain for a lot of people," the judge said.
He said there is no way to undo what happened.
The state's sentencing system takes into account a defendant's criminal history. Kuckelman said Dorsey had the highest possible criminal history score.
"Your criminal life began as a juvenile," Kuckelman said.
The judge said he hopes Dorsey thinks long and hard about his actions and the pain he has caused.
“This is a death that shouldn’t have occurred," County Attorney Todd Thompson said in a news release. "It’s a tragedy that has wrecked a family. Our continued thoughts and prayers go to the Pena family. This death is due to an expired tag. The defendant could have simply pulled over, but instead we lost a bright future.”