MARTINEZ -- A judicial error is prompting the early prison release of a Clayton man convicted of driving drunk and killing a Brentwood man in 2008, to the chagrin of the victim's family.
"From an accountability standpoint, where does the finger get pointed in this case?" the victim's brother, Cornell Threatt, asked the sentencing judge Friday.
Clayton resident Glenn Julian Paulk Jr., 31, had a .216 blood alcohol content -- nearly three times the legal limit -- on Feb. 24, 2008, when he drove the wrong way down Highway 4 and struck another vehicle head-on.
The other driver, Ronald Threatt, a 39-year-old father of three, was killed in the collision. Threatt's friend, Syrita Blazer, was badly injured. Blazer, 32, said she lives on with a rod in her leg, a screw in her elbow and heavy emotional trauma.
The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office sought a prison term of more than 10 years for Paulk when Judge Steve Austin offered, and Paulk accepted, a six-year sentence. Because Paulk's offense was a violent felony, he is required by law to serve 85 percent of any sentence, deputy district attorney Melissa Smith said.
But Paulk and his attorney believed he would only have to serve 50 percent of the sentence, and Paulk never checked a box on his plea form acknowledging he had to serve 85 percent of the term. After Judge Leslie Landau sentenced Paulk on Oct. 10, 2008, to the deal designed by Austin, everyone but Paulk expected
Paulk was expecting to be released a few months back when the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation advised that wasn't the case. Landau resentenced Paulk on Friday to four years in state prison due to the error. Smith said he'll be released in roughly 215 days. Paulk will have served more time than he originally agreed to, but less time than if the original sentence been legally accurate.
"I should have caught the error and I didn't," Landau told Threatt's family. "(Ronald Threatt) was clearly a great guy and he doesn't deserve this and you don't deserve this. I'm sorry."
Threatt's mother, Beatrice, and siblings told Landau they remain devastated over Ronald's death.
"I'm happy the mistake was caught because I feel in my heart that Glenn doesn't deserve to go home early," Ronald's sister, Sherry Threatt said. "If I was the judge -- and I say this to you, Glenn -- you would do life (in prison)."
Paulk asked to address Threatt's family for the first time Friday.
"I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry," said Paulk, a father of two. "I'm still very ashamed of what I did. I didn't mean to."
The defendant's father, Glenn Paulk Sr., said he's seen a change in his son since the fatal crash and believes he is remorseful. He sympathized with the Threatt family, as his own brother died in an auto collision caused by another driver.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.