Driver who struck, killed two men along I-70 gets 10 years

Monday, June 24, 2013 | 8:49 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Gilbert L. Love, a retired mechanic and tow truck driver, liked helping motorists in need.

"He'd diagnose the problem and get them back on the road," his son Ragan Love said Monday in a Boone County courtroom.

Gilbert Love of Auxvasse and Edward Taggart of Prairie Home were returning from an auction July 14, 2011. They had stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 70 near mile marker 129.6 to put gas in one of the vehicles when Earl Hutcherson, 62, veered onto the shoulder and struck the two men with his 1998 Toyota 4-runner sport-utility vehicle. 

Gilbert Love, who was 73 and died at the scene, had been told the day before by his doctor that he might live for another 20 years. Taggart, who was 72 and later died at University Hospital as the result of his injuries, was four days away from celebrating his 47th wedding anniversary.

Hutcherson was sentenced Monday afternoon in the 13th Circuit of Boone County to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter for the July 2011 deaths of Taggart and Gilbert Love. When asked by Circuit Judge Christine Carpenter, Hutcherson admitted he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.

Carpenter handed down the 10-year, concurrent sentences after hearing from the victims' families in person and through statements submitted to the court.

The court heard testimony from several members of Love's family, including his wife, Jean Love, and three of his children, Linda Gubera, Ragan Love and Susan Pasley.

Through tears, Love's family testified to how Hutcherson's actions had affected their lives.

Gilbert Love "was taken from my children as their grandad and my wife as her father-in-law," Ragan Love said.

Pasley told the court about how Gilbert Love had always instructed his children to drive safely.

"Maybe if he had taught Mr. Hutcherson to drive, my dad would still be here," Pasley said. 

Pasley, Love's oldest daughter, told the court her family wanted justice for Hutcherson's actions and asked that he be taken "straight to jail from the courtroom."

Gubera expressed a similar sentiment. "Mr. Hutcherson needs to be held accountable for these choices," she said. "We've waited two years, and we don't want to wait one day more," she said through tears.

While no one from Taggart's family spoke in court, Carpenter had received letters from relatives and told Hutcherson that Taggart's funeral was held the day that would have been his 47th wedding anniversary. 

"I'm sure that's not anything (Taggart's wife) was planning or was convenient for her schedule," Carpenter said.

Matthew Fry, Hutcherson's attorney, asked Carpenter to delay his client's surrender to the Department of Corrections until next month.

Fry noted that Hutcherson had always appeared at his scheduled court hearings and was trying to sell his property to provide his family financial support before he went to prison.

The judge denied the request.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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