Carlene Spenneberg has a constant reminder of the Casper teen who died in a car crash after drinking vodka she supplied.
"When I look at my daughter, I know the only boy she loved is dead because of me," Spenneberg said Monday, minutes before a judge sentenced her to six months in jail for child endangerment and furnishing alcohol to minors.
Spenneberg previously admitted to supplying alcohol to Ryan Barry, 17, and a then 15-year-old girl, who were involved in a July 4 crash on a county road west of Casper. Tests showed Barry, who was driving, had a blood alcohol concentration of .30 - more than four times the legal limit for an adult in Wyoming.
Barry died at the scene and the girl, who's not related to Spenneberg, suffered serious injuries.
Spenneberg, 34, bought a gallon of vodka that several young people drank at an Independence Day party near Natrona County International Airport, according to authorities. The crash happened after Barry and the girl left the party in a borrowed car.
"I knew it was wrong when I did it, but I thought they were going to be safe," Spenneberg said in Natrona County Circuit Court on Monday, as she shook with emotion.
About two dozen young people looked on as Judge Michael Patchen handed down the sentence. Many of them wept. Others stared ahead stoically.
"You buy a gallon of alcohol and hope things go well … it's a pipe dream," the judge said.
As part of the sentence, Spenneberg will have the option of getting help at a Laramie inpatient treatment center after 90 days in jail. She tested positive for methamphetamine four times between her September arrest and sentencing, said Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen.
After treatment, Spenneberg will return to jail, but she would have the opportunity to petition the court for a sentence reduction.
Along with the jail time, Patchen gave Spenneberg a one-and-half-year suspended sentence, two years of supervised probation, and 250 hours of community service. The community service is supposed to focus on the issue of drunken driving.
In their sentencing arguments, both Itzen and public defender Kimberly Corey focused on the message Spenneberg's case should provide.
Itzen, who sought a one-year jail sentence, told the judge the punishment needed to let the community know that buying alcohol for young people won't be tolerated.
"We have to send a message that we must protect our youth," he said.
Corey asked for a 30-day jail sentence. She argued it would be better for Spenneberg to teach kids from her story than serve a long jail sentence.
"Your honor, send a message to the community, but allow it to be her voice," Corey said, adding that her client deeply regretted buying the alcohol.
Five people spoke on Spenneberg's behalf, including Rene Barry, the mother of Ryan Barry. She told the court she didn't think Spenneberg was "on the list of people to blame for my son's death."
"I don't feel any one person is punishable for his death," she said.
The crash happened at about 6:15 p.m on July 4 when a borrowed Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Barry rolled along 7 Mile Road. The car was traveling between 89 and 92 mph as it sped through the intersection with Zero Road, the Wyoming Highway Patrol estimated.
The Eclipse hit a speed-limit sign and cartwheeled end over end. The impact was strong enough to rip the tires off the car, Itzen said.
Neither Barry nor the girl was wearing a seat belt.
Two months after the crash, Natrona County sheriff's investigators said they had identified the woman who provided the teens alcohol. A week later, prosecutors charged Spenneberg with two counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor, along with one count of child endangerment because the girl was under the age of 16 at the time.
The charges are all misdemeanors. Prosecutors said they didn't have the kind of evidence need to charge Spenneberg with a more serious charged in connection with Barry's death.
Spenneberg had been free on $5,000 bond.
Reach Joshua Wolfson at (307) 266-0582 or at email@example.com.