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Utahn sentenced to prison in auto death of Caffe Ibis owner

Published June 30, 2014 7:30 am

Courts • Alvin Blaine Henson, of Millville, admitted he was driving drunk prior to fatal crash.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • The life of Randy Wirth was "the exact opposite" of that of Alvin Henson, a Logan judge said Monday.

Where Wirth worked hard in his small business and was selfless in his community activism, 1st District Judge Kevin Allen said Henson was selfish: a man who frequently drove drunk and had multiple DUI convictions.

It was Henson's selfishness, Allen said, that led to the April 10 crash that killed Wirth.

"His voice was silence by this accident," Allen told Henson before handing down the maximum 1-to-15 year prison sentence. "His voice is no longer here. You, Mr. Henson, silenced that incredible voice in our community."

Allen told Henson that he will recommend to the parole board that he serve at least 10 years behind bars. He also ordered the man to pay more than $15,000 in restitution.

Henson, 40, of Millville, pleaded guilty in May to second-degree felony automobile homicide for the April crash.

Wirth, 67 — who co-owned Caffe Ibis Coffee Roasting Co. in downtown Logan with wife, Sally Sears — suffered fatal injuries in the April 10 crash and died two days later.

During Monday's sentencing hearing, Cache County Attorney James Swink read letters from Wirth's wife and son aloud — both asking for the maximum prison sentence.

"As a Christian, I will forgive him," a letter from Sears read. "But I'll never forget what he did to my family."

Swink also advocated for the maximum sentence, saying that Henson would frequently ask friends to blow in his DUI interlock system so he could drive while intoxicated, or h borrowed vehicles without interlock systems.

On the day of the fatal accident, Swink said Henson had consumed 12 beers and a shot of whiskey — and drove his girlfriend's truck to avoid the interlock system.

"His conduct was so reckless for so many years," Swink said of Henson.

Henson spoke briefly in court, his voice cracking as he offered an apology.

"I just take full responsibility and am definitely sorry," he said.

Two misdemeanors charges related to being an alcohol restricted driver and not having a DUI interlock system in the car Henson was driving were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea to the felony.

Also in court Monday was Michelle Hoppie, 42, who was charged as an accomplice in Wirth's death for allegedly letting Henson take her pickup truck to go get more beer for a party that was underway.

Hoppie, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree felony automobile and homicide and misdemeanor tampering with an ignition interlock system, has a three-day trial set to begin Oct. 28.

Police believe that just after 7:30 p.m. on April 10, Henson was driving the pickup truck east on 200 South in Millville. Witnesses described his driving as erratic, according Cache County sheriff's authorities.

Henson's truck crossed into the westbound lanes and hit a Cadillac DeVille near 140 West. Somehow, Wirth — who was driving a motorcycle — was also struck during the accident, according to authorities.

Wirth was taken in an ambulance to Logan Regional Hospital. A helicopter then flew him to McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, where he later died.

Deputies who responded to the crash immediately recognized evidence of alcohol use with both Henson and his 29-year-old passenger, according to police. The two suffered minor injuries and were taken to Logan Regional Hospital. Seven hours after the accident, Swink said Henson had a blood alcohol level of .13 — nearly twice the legal driving limit in Utah.

Swink said that after the accident, Henson told his girlfriend that "he just wanted to go home and have a beer."

In January 2013, Henson pleaded guilty to a DUI, and was sentenced to 12 months probation and two days in jail.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller