Original article no longer available
The Daily Courier
By C. MURPHY HEBERT
Sept 25, 2002
PRESCOTT – Matthew McIntosh said during a pre-sentence hearing Thursday that he tried to pull his friend from a burning wreck after he lost control of his car this past November.
McIntosh, 22, of Skull Valley, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, fleeing the scene of a fatal accident and endangerment in August. According to court records, McIntosh and his friend, 25-year-old Shane Michael Gilmore, left a local bar shortly after midnight on Nov. 10, 2001, and reportedly were speeding on Iron Springs Road when McIntosh lost control of his vehicle, causing it to roll-over, ejecting him but trapping Gilmore inside.
Gilmore burned to death after McIntosh’s and other bystanders’ attempts to save him from the vehicle failed. McIntosh now faces as long as 32.75 years in prison.
At the hearing Thursday, McIntosh said he has psychological problems, including depression and mania, that contributed to the accident. He said he tried to see a counselor the day before the accident but was unable to.
“I was feeling manic and needed some help,” he said, later explaining that he felt agitated and invincible.
He said he began drinking with a friend that afternoon and went to Prescott Live later that night, where he met with Gilmore. After having several more drinks, the two decided to drive to Skull Valley. McIntosh said they were traveling at an average speed of 90 miles an hour on Iron Springs Road, but according to court documents the car was going about 77 miles an hour when he wrecked.
McIntosh, who is taking medication for his disorders, remained relatively expressionless and spoke in a monotone as he described the crash. He said he woke up next to the burning car and could hear Gilmore screaming for help.
“I remember trying to help him out of the car,” he said, adding that he suffered some burns on his face. “But it was just killing me to hear him scream … I just ran away.”
When authorities found him, he was suffering from a back injury and he had a blood alcohol content of .11. He was also taking prescribed psychotropic medication, which he was not supposed to mix with alcohol, that day. McIntosh also said that he had just completed a drug and alcohol treatment program and knew that he should not have been drinking.
A California psychologist, Kevin McCready, also testified at the hearing. He said McIntosh’s doctors never should have prescribed the psychotropic drugs he was taking then and is taking now.
He said McIntosh was on Effexor, which can “cause agitation in some cases.” He added that McIntosh’s behavior became more erratic when he began taking the psychotropic drugs because he is “psychotropic intolerant” – a condition that cause some people to have adverse reactions to those types of drugs. He said some of the side effects are mania, agitation, apathy and poor judgment – which could have influenced his decisions that night.
“It was a problem caused by the treatment itself,” he said. “His problem is rooted in his reaction to these drugs. It was about involuntary intoxication … he didn’t know what it was going to do to him.”
McCready said he would like to see McIntosh participate in an intense outpatient drug program that he directs. He said McIntosh needs to quit taking the medication and needs alternative treatment. He asked Yavapai County Superior Court Judge William Kiger to give him a minimal sentence.
“The longer he stays out of the program the more difficult he’s going to be to work with,” he said.
McIntosh’s mother, Paula Matthew, said she did notice her son’s behavior begin to deteriorate rapidly after doctors started prescribing psychotropic drugs. She said the medication has changed him.
“He’s flat … he shows very little emotion,” she said.
She added that McIntosh has a lot of family support and that they would find a way to pay for the costly treatment program in California.
“I would do anything I possibly could to help my son have a normal life,” she said.
Some of Gilmore’s family spoke about their loss at the hearing. His mother, Sandy Gilmore, said her son “was the most precious thing” in her life and “he would have been a great asset to the community.” He said his death was tragic.
“My son was alive … pleading for his life,” she said to McIntosh. “That’s one of the most horrific deaths you can go through.”
Mrs. Gilmore, who wept through most of the hearing, said the loss of her son caused her so much pain that she attempted suicide.
“You took that life away from me,” she told McIntosh.
Kevin Gilmore, the victim’s father, said his son was a volunteer firefighter and a good man.
“Our son liked to help people … but nobody helped him,” he said, calling McIntosh a coward for running away. He said he wanted McIntosh to spend at least 20 years in prison.
“He is a person who does not learn from his mistakes,” he said. “This was a crime … not an accident.”
After family and friends finished speaking about Gilmore, Kiger reminded the parties that he will sentence McIntosh on Oct. 15.
Contact C. Murphy Hébert at email@example.com.