Sentence reduced for man convicted in DUI death of woman

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The family of a woman killed by a drunken driver claims a deal was made behind their backs to reduce the driver's sentence. Eleanor Caperton died in July 2011 after a driver who admitted to being intoxicated drove the wrong way on Interstate 26 and hit Caperton's car. Samuel McCauley was sentenced in January to 15 years in prison, but court documents show his sentence was reduced to five years. The solicitor's office said the Victims' Bill of Rights requires that attorneys notify the victims if they are pushing for a change -- that's why the solicitor filed a motion Thursday to reopen the sentencing hearing.At the last sentencing hearing, Gina Buchardt thought that time would the last she heard from the man who killed her aunt. "Well it's very upsetting. We were very disappointed when we found out about it and then the fact that it was almost like a back room deal being done, swept under the carpet. Our victims' rights were completely ignored," she said.Buchardt says she discovered online that McCauley's sentence was reduced to five years, even though he pleaded guilty to the charges.Buchardt says she was not notified of the reduced sentence."I can't imagine what information or evidence would have been missing or would have caused the judge not only to grant the motion to reconsider but to basically cut his sentence in half, not have another hearing about it and not notify the victims, and the solicitors office," Buchardt said. McCauley's attorney Capers Barr filed a motion to reconsider his initial sentence in January 2013. According to court documents, the sentence reduction was approved for each charge of felony DUI and reckless homicide in May and June respectively. While Solicitor Scarlett Wilson didn't have any comment Thursday, a motion she filed late Wednesday says the court's approach to resentencing the defendant threatens the integrity of the criminal justice system. It reflects the family's feelings as well, they said."Where are our rights in this situation? We don't know and to have to keep having this go on, and on, and on. It's a nightmare," Buchardt said.

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