July 30, 2015


Local

Multiple DUIs net 15-month jail sentence

Judge has strong words for man with long history of driving drunk

A Lockport man arrested for being drunk at the wheel five times in a year visibly trembled in court Friday while vowing to never again let another drop of liquor pass his lips.

"It's a miracle of God that I'm still alive to speak these words," a distressed Marcus Kleinsasser said. "I promise to deal with the abuses of my past once and for all time."

Judge Brent Stewart, however, was taking the 51-year old's promises with a grain of salt.

Stewart said he wasn't happy with a 15-month jail sentence he was effectively handcuffed by the law to impose due to a plea deal Kleinsasser and his lawyer struck with the Crown.

"It's a really difficult sentence for me," Stewart said. "I'm just not sure I buy what you're saying."

Kleinsasser, a recovering alcoholic, was convicted of four impaired driving-related offences that occurred between February 2011 and 2012.

He previously pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving, two of having care and control of a vehicle while impaired and one of driving while disqualified.

In two of the cases, Kleinsasser's blood-alcohol readings were proven to be three times the legal limit or greater.

He has two prior drunk driving convictions from 2005.

Crown attorney Krista Berkis called his repetitive impaired driving "atrocious."

She noted the rarity of seeing someone caught so frequently for doing effectively the exact same thing."

"I don't know that I've ever seen this before," she told Stewart, adding his crimes took place across a wide geographic area.

"He put an entire province at risk," said Berkis.

"He doesn't seem to get it -- doesn't want to get it... if you're an alcoholic, stay home and drink. Don't get behind the wheel," she said.

Kleinsasser, a married father of four, was held in custody after his fifth arrest on Feb. 19, 2012.

He spent nearly four months on remand before being granted bail and being released to a live-in rehabilitation centre in Winnipeg.

He was caught having prescription pills in his room shortly after getting there and was briefly returned to custody until given another chance soon after.

Kleinsasser's situation seemed to stabilize until this April, when a worker at the facility saw him behind the wheel of a vehicle.

He had been forbidden to drive while on bail given the nature of his charges.

Two days later, full and empty beer cans and more pills were found while his room was being cleaned up, Berkis said.

Kleinsasser was returned to custody, where he's remained since.

He had a "terrible, horrific" childhood where underage drinking was the norm, defence lawyer Sarah Inness said.

Unresolved problems from that time combined with depression, anxiety and his battle with the bottle comingle to create serious issues for him, she said.

Kleinsasser relapsed into alcoholism in 2011 when a cousin of his was excommunicated from a Hutterite colony, said Inness.

This mirrored his own experiences as a youth and triggered his behaviour, she said.

Despite slip-ups which are expected for a recovering alcoholic, Kleinsasser's done well in treatment and has sought mental-health help, said Inness.

Stewart said he was very concerned at the recent discovery Kleinsasser had continued to drive, along with the beer cans and pills found in his treatment centre room.

It shows he's willing to "cut corners," the judge said. "That's why I really think the public is at risk when you're released."

After time-served awaiting his day in court was accounted for, Kleinsasser was left with four months left to serve.

Stewart also barred him from driving for eight years and placed him on probation for three.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2014 A8

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Scroll down to load more

Top