Too emotional to speak, Jeremiah Therkelsen sat next to his attorney Friday morning to hear the inevitable.
Under the terms of a plea agreement hammered out between the victim, prosecutors and the 32-year-old Therkelsen, he knew he would serve 12 years in prison for a suicide attempt by vehicle that left one man with permanent disabilities.
And those 12 years would be served after a suspended prison sentence awaiting the former soldier in Georgia in a vehicular homicide case.
Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Adam Mildred told Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck about how the victim, a working father on his way home from his job, is now paralyzed from the waist down, his life changed forever.
“He has a rough time getting around,” Mildred said.
On Feb. 7, Therkelsen, of the 2600 block of Abbey Drive, drove his 1995 Honda Accord into the back of a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria driven by Lamonta Green, near Canterbury Green apartments.
The impact of the crash broke Green’s back and caused a serious head injury, according to court documents.
After the crash, Therkelsen tried to flee and struck a passing car with his fist, breaking the windshield. He also tore the driver’s side mirror off that vehicle.
Therkelsen later told investigators he had an argument with his wife and tried to kill himself twice – first by crashing her vehicle into the Crown Victoria and then by trying to jump in front of a moving car.
When asked whether he had anything he wanted to say, Therkelsen tried, but shook his head “no.”
Therkelsen’s attorney, Marcia Linsky, spoke for her client, who appeared to be on the verge of bursting into tears throughout the entire hearing.
“The damage done by (the crash) is such that no sentence can bring (the victim) back to where he was,” Linsky said. “(Therkelsen) would change it if he could.”
She asked for mental health services to be provided to her client during his prison stay. Early on in the case, Linsky asked for mental health experts to evaluate Therkelsen and filed paperwork indicating she was going to use a defense of mental disease or defect.
Surbeck accepted the terms of the plea agreement and sentenced Therkelsen to 12 years in prison on a single charge of aggravated battery and 180 days in prison on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. He ordered the sentences to be served at the same time.
But before he can serve his Indiana prison sentence, Therkelsen must finish a once-suspended prison sentence awaiting him in Georgia.
According to a report in the Savannah Morning News outlining Therkelsen’s indictment in that case, the then-Army soldier was driving recklessly – weaving and speeding. He lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree, ejecting his passenger, 26-year-old Dennis Springer, who died.
Therkelsen’s sentence for the Allen County case must be served after he serves the remaining time in the Georgia case. He was out on probation, on a suspended sentence, when he crashed into Green.
It appears, according to Chatham County, Georgia, court documents, Therkelsen’s sentence in that case is another 12 years.