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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Pain continues for victim's family
As a drunken driver is sentenced, Richard Couey's family still mourns.
By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007
NEW PORT RICHEY - Time has healed nothing for the family of Richard Couey. Since his death two years ago at the hands of a drunken driver, the family told a judge, their pain has only worsened.
"I am the one with the huge lump in my throat and cannot speak out loud about my loss without falling apart," his mother Kay Couey, 50, wrote in her victim's statement. "My heart hurts so bad that I can barely breathe at times."
Her husband, Russell Couey, 52, still cannot speak of his youngest son's death. "He still breaks down every day and in inconsolable," she wrote.
Her middle son Eric Russell, 30, attempted suicide this January. A friend knocked the gun out of his mouth at the last second, the family said, leaving his face permanently scarred.
The family brought their pain to court Friday to watch Robert Allen Woods sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing Couey and seriously injuring Couey's wife, Tiamekia, on a Shady Hills road in 2005.
Woods, 37, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of DUI manslaughter and a misdemeanor charge of DUI. The Couey family, which lives in Homosassa and said it is not related to convicted Citrus County child murderer John Couey, agreed to the plea bargain.
The judge adjudicated Woods guilty and barred him from driving for the rest of his life.
It was almost 10 p.m. Dec. 9, 2005, the Florida Highway Patrol said, when Woods raced north through a 30 mph zone on Monteverde Drive. He was going 76 mph.
His 2005 Chevy van slipped past the center line into the southbound lane, the FHP said, barely missing an oncoming vehicle. Woods swerved back into the northbound lane, then back into the southbound lane, and this time, the FHP said, he struck a vehicle containing the Coueys.
Richard Couey was killed instantly, the FHP said. The family said Tiamekia Couey suffered a serious head injury and moved out of state.
Woods' blood-alcohol level was 0.194 and 0.193, according to the patrol. Florida law presumes a driver is impaired at 0.08.
Richard Couey died days before his 25th birthday, which instead became the day of his service.
The defendant had nothing to say.
Circuit Judge Thane Covert had plenty.
"Mr. Woods you created a very tragic situation with a very senseless act," Covert said. "You have affected not only the immediate life of a very worthwhile human being who meant a lot to a lot of people but you have also affected the lives of those who knew him well.
"I hope this senseless act affects you for the rest of your life."