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Posted on Sat. Feb. 02, 2013 - 12:16 am EDT

Repeat drunken driver gets 4 years

Victims testify to life of pain after north-end pileup

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FORT WAYNE — When his fiancée would awaken in pain in the middle of the night, Nicholas Cobb could not help but get angry.

Whenever he had to help her go to the bathroom, or comfort her during those times when she had become an “emotional mess,” when he had to reassure her that their wedding would be fine, the anger would boil.

And on Friday afternoon, Cobb found himself in an Allen Superior courtroom looking at Gabriel Biddle, 29, who admitted to causing all of that hurt.

“I’ve had a long four months to think about this,” Cobb said. “Nothing in our life is the same.”

Judge John Surbeck ordered Biddle to serve four years in prison for his role in a multicar crash in which his blood-alcohol content measured 0.52 percent – six times the legal limit.

It was the third time Biddle has been convicted of drunken driving.

Biddle was behind the wheel of a Toyota Corolla when he slammed into five other vehicles stopped at Maplecrest and Evard roads the afternoon of Sept. 27.

Cobb’s fiancée had to be extracted from her vehicle with broken ribs, bruising and injured bones in her forearm that needed to be surgically reconstructed.

Cobb said Friday his fiancée’s back also suffered some type of injury.

“My family is a wreck,” he told Biddle.

But Cobb also listened to Biddle’s attorney speak of his client’s family. Like Cobb, Biddle is also a young father and needs to be there for those who need him, the lawyer said.

“I don’t want him to sit in jail forever,” Cobb said.

Michael Brust was in another car involved in the crash and suffered bruises, according to court documents. He read a few words from his Bible during Friday’s hearing and then spoke to Biddle.

“Mr. Biddle, I want you to know I forgive you for the pain and anguish you caused,” Brust said.

A tearful Biddle apologized to his victims, told them he does not expect their forgiveness and said he has lost “a lot” for what he did.

“I just need you to know I am sorry,” he said.

Surbeck sentenced Biddle, who previously pleaded guilty to several charges, to eight years in prison for one felony count of causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Surbeck ordered four of those years suspended.

The judge also sentenced him to three years in prison each on four counts of criminal recklessness but suspended those sentences.

Biddle’s license was suspended for five years from the date of the crash.

He was also ordered to participate in a substance abuse program and serve seven years’ probation.

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Adam Mildred called the sentence, which was part of a plea agreement, his “last gasp.”

“If he wants to get it right, this is his last chance,” Mildred said.

jeffwiehe@jg.net


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