Crime

Man who tampered with alcohol monitor while on probation for fatal crash heading to prison

The man who was granted probation earlier this year after fatally hitting a woman with his pickup truck while he drove intoxicated is now headed to prison for violating that probation.

Fourth District Judge Deborah Bail revoked Adam Paulson’s probation Monday after she found in April that he intentionally tampered with a SCRAM alcohol-monitoring device that he was required to wear as part of his felony probation for vehicular manslaughter. Bail imposed Paulson’s underlying 15-year prison sentence. He could be eligible for parole after serving five years.

Paulson, 43, was sentenced in mid-January to 15 years of probation and no prison time, after he served 14 months in jail prior to his sentencing. The sentence drew national attention from organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which asked for a review of Bail’s decision by the Idaho Judicial Council.

The woman Paulson struck and killed in 2017 in Eagle was 24-year-old Madeline “Maddie” Duskey. Evidence presented during trial showed that Paulson’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit at the time he struck Duskey as she walked across Eagle Road on Nov. 18, 2017.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Heather Reilly argued that Paulson has never taken full responsibility for Duskey’s death and has tried to act like the victim in the case. Reilly also noted that Paulson had been issued the alcohol monitor for less than a month before he was found to have tampered with the device.

While Paulson did not test positive for alcohol, it was clear that he was tampering with the device to see whether he could defeat it, prosecutors said Monday.

“It is a significant and dangerous violation of the terms of probation from the state’s perspective,” Reilly said in court.

She went on to say that Paulson has yet to show real remorse.

“The defendant really did not accept responsibility for his criminal conduct in this case,” Riley said. “He didn’t really believe that he was responsible for killing Maddie Duskey.”

Defense attorney Gabriel McCarthy disputed the prosecution’s characterization of his client and asked that the judge give Paulson another opportunity to complete probation. He pointed out that Paulson was living in a sober-living facility, attending AA meetings and applying for jobs.

“He is tremendously remorseful,” McCarthy said in court.

Prior to revoking his probation, Bail spent time explaining why she initially had hoped her sentence would help him rehabilitate and make “meaningful change” in his life.

“Prison is a poor tool for public protection when you’re dealing with people who have substance abuse problems,” Bail said in court. “Because substance abusers, if you take away everything, they often return to substance abuse when they get out of prison. On the other hand, sometimes people by their own actions take away the useful tools.”

Part of Paulson’s original sentence was that he pay child support to Duskey’s two children until they reach adulthood, something that Bail said she wanted to enforce.

“I felt accountability and acceptance of responsibility and concrete steps towards making changes for the defendant that addressed his alcoholism would be in the long-term best interest of the public,” she said. “That is my primary focus, always. It is what makes the public safest in the long term.”

But Paulson’s actions while on probation have shown that he is not trustworthy, the judge said. She said she hoped Paulson would deal with his alcoholism in a meaningful way.

“You had already committed a very serious offense,” Bail told Paulson in court. “My job is to make sure that nobody else goes through what the Duskey family has gone through. And unfortunately the only tool left in the box is that you receive whatever treatment you receive in a structured setting.”

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.
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