« Gouged by TV fees | Main | Good times, bad times »

February 19, 2009

Light sentence in hit-and-run

A Mission Hills resident is convicted in the 2008 hit-and-run killing of Daniel Riemann (2/14, Local, “Five year prison term in hit-and-run”). The 20-year-old perpetrator, Curtis Mertensmeyer, pleads guilty to (underage) drinking, speeding, hitting Mr. Riemann and leaving the scene.

Mr. Riemann was thrown 139 feet, with a leg severed, and left to die because his killer sped on and did not seek help. And for this, the admitted killer is sentenced by Jackson County Judge John Torrence to only five years in prison with possible probation in 120 days? That’s four months in jail for taking a life, if probation is granted. How is this justice?

As a citizen, I am outraged that the maximum sentence was not imposed in this case. As a mother, I am angered by the message this inept judge is sending our young people. Apparently you can drink, drive and even kill a pedestrian without suffering undue consequences. Of course, it probably helps if you live in the “right” part of town with affluent, well-connected parents.

To Mr. Riemann’s family, my condolences. To the judge and legal system that would let this convicted criminal go free with a slap on the wrist: for shame.

Jennifer Jarrell



Sounds a lot like what happened to a couple fo the Kennedy boys back East. True enough, money and power get you out of most anything.



As I speculated earlier, less than 6 months.

T. Hanson

Oh you guys are really unbelievable. The answer to why this guy got such a lenient sentence is in the first line of this letter.

"Mission Hills resident is convicted in the 2008 hit-and-run killing of Daniel Riemann..."

He was very well off, and if I remember this 20 yr old was driving a very nice car when he slammed his car into Daniel at a very high rate of speed while drunk.

Don't you love plea agreements when you can pay a great lawyer.

Of course some of you are blaming the victim. That is funny too.



1. The kid pled guilty to a charge with a maximum sentence of 7 years (involuntary manslaughter), plus a few more minor offenses (leaving the scene, etc). The article states that according to the plea, the max he could get was 7 years, SO, it is apparent that part of his plea must have been that he did no time on the more minor offenses.

2. The judge NEVER said that he might be grated probation in 120 days, just that he wanted to see him back in the courtroom to review his behavior. The author of the article jumped to the conclusion that this must mean that there is a potential for probation at that time. At this time, the sentence is 5 years, no less.

mike d

I do not condone drunken driving, but don't act like 5 years in prison is a cakewalk. Try spending a day in the smallest room in your house sometime - with a bunch of scumbags. And just because he has a probation hearing in 120 days doesn't mean he is actually getting out. Meanwhile, while kids his age are moving forward with making a life for themselves, he rots in jail. Life as he knew it is over. He has a felony conviction hanging over his head for the rest of his life. Once again, I am not condoning what he did or the sentence he received, but just because he is not in jail for life doesn't mean he is not feeling the punishment he has been served.


Good morning Marctnts,

We'll probably not keep up with this story so this is pure speculation, I think the kid will be out in less than 6 months.

As we discussed yesterday, money makes everything go round'.

Pub 17

The driver was drunk. That's five years right there.

The driver left the scene. That's a felony right there.

The driver stay over on Benton, with his cousin, and he looked funny at a police officer. That's another five years right there.

Oops. Forget the last.


Government makes too much revenue from alcohol, through several revenue streams. Taxation, DOC, courts, lawyers definitely want repeat offenders, liberals want "programs" versus punishment.
Government spend more time worrying about managing family budgets and filling our jails with debtors and pot smokers to be concerned with dangerously drunk and reckless drivers. Government is concerned about two things and only two things, power and revenue.


A 12-year sentence for running a puppymill isn't excessive, IMO, but the sentence this young driver received for vehicular homicide is insanely inaqeduate. I don't care what time of day it was or where the victim was walking when he was hit, the fact is, he was too drunk to avoid a tragedy. Three years ago, I could easily have been killed by the drunk that slammed into my car; I'm not all that sympathetic to a drunk drivers' side of the story. The man who hit me is still alive today because I was sober and clear-thinking and took an evasive action that prevented me from broadsiding him in his drivers side.

Tom K

A person can get put in jail that long and longer for animal abuse that doesn't kill the animal. A Missouri woman was just jailed for 12 years.


There are a lot of issues to consider her. First, the facts:

He pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, maximum term 7 years. He was sentenced to 5 years, with a "call back" in 120 days to review behavior and determine the possibility of probation.

Now, the issues:

1. No matter your feelings on whether the law should be changed to classify a DUI homicide as murder instead of manslaughter, right now it's classified as manslaughter (except in the most extreme of cases), and as such, 7 years is the maximum penalty.

2. I would guess the fact that the victim was walking in the street at night was a consideration. It doesn't change fact that the driver was drunk, but I'm sure it was considered a contributing factor.

3. It's hard to guess why the judge would include the 120 day "call back" possibility, but right now the sentence is 5 years, and if I was a betting man, I'd say that probation probably WON'T be granted at that time. How about we wait and see before flipping out at the mere possibility.

rey rey

Jennifer, while this is tragic, lets not forget the facts:

the victim was walking in the street of a very busy road at night...even though the grass medium at this location is hundreds of feet wide. Regardless of alcohol or the fact that the driver left the sceen, at some point people must take responsibility for their actions. If you or I are walking down a busy street at night, chances are bad things will happen. If the victim wasnt hit by this driver, Im guessing the chances of someone else hitting them was high.


This is truly appalling. What's the penalty for murder one - 6 months?

As outrageous as this case is, there is another aspect that we continue to ignore (at our peril).

Adults continue to demonstrate to our youth that alcohol is a requirement for a good time. All social activity, it seems, must revolve around drinking. The drinking IS the event; the wedding, the ball game, the fair - whatever - is secondary to drinking alcohol.

I am not an prohibitionist. I enjoy a drink from time to time. But the drink should be the side show, not the main event. Let's get it under control.

Is there no limit to the destruction we will permit liquor to inflict on us?

About KansasCity.com | About the Real Cities Network | Terms of Use & Privacy Statement | About Knight Ridder | Copyright