Friday, April 20, 2001 | 11 a.m.
Rejecting a defense attorney's contention that anything more than a 10-year sentence would be equivalent to an "execution," a district judge this morning sentenced the man whose drunken driving killed a woman and injured her sister who had recently won a Megabucks jackpot to 28 to 92 years in prison.
District Judge Valorie Vega said Clark Morse's sentence was "appropriate and just" and ensures that he will never again cause a fatal accident.
Vega imposed her sentence after hearing the emotional pleas of the family members impacted by Morse's actions in March 2000.
Morse, 58, was convicted March 8 on multiple charges in connection with a March 11, 2000, accident that left Lela Ann Jay, 45, dead and her sister, Cynthia Jay-Brennan, a quadriplegic.
Prosecutors maintain that Morse was drunk when he rear-ended Jay-Brennan's 1999 Camaro as it sat waiting behind three other vehicles at a red light on Boulder Highway.
Jay-Brennan had won a $35 million Megabucks jackpot weeks before.
Blood tests taken within three hours of the accident showed Morse had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 and 0.15. A level of 0.10 in Nevada is considered under the influence.
Morse's attorneys, John Moran Jr. and Lew Brandon Jr., presented evidence that Morse has the mental capacity of a third-grader.
Moran said it was unjust of prosecutors to ask for a lengthier sentence than is often imposed upon people who commit murders with premeditation and deliberation. Morse, he said, did not act intentionally and is filled with remorse.
Morse was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence resulting in death, and driving with 0.10 or more blood-alcohol level at the time of the death of Jay.
The jury also found him guilty of driving under the influence with substantial bodily harm in the crippling injuries of Jay-Brennan, 38, as well as driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.
In addition, Morse was found guilty of seven counts of leaving the scene of the accident -- one count for each person involved in the wreck.
Before the accident Morse had been arrested at least 16 times for alcohol and driving-related offenses but escaped serious jail time.