EVERETT — Every day Michael Spieker wishes he could undo the crash that killed his friend Staci Laugle, he told the judge through tears at his sentencing Thursday.
“I wish I could take it all back,” Spieker said in a packed courtroom. “And I’m an idiot. … Staci didn’t deserve this. She was a great friend and person.”
The apology did not sway Superior Court Judge Anita Farris. She ordered Spieker to serve 8½ years in prison, the maximum under state guidelines, for causing Laugle’s death while speeding on a summer night in 2017.
The judge allowed the Mountlake Terrace man, 28, to stay out of jail as he awaited sentencing. But a month later Spieker violated his release conditions by drinking alcohol and smoking pot, then getting into a fight with his girlfriend where he broke her nose, according to police reports. He has been held in the Snohomish County Jail since June 22.
At trial, Spieker did not hide the fact that he imbibed alcohol and cannabis on the evening of Sept. 1, 2017.
Over the course of five hours, he drank Jack Daniels mixed with Coca-Cola at his grandparents’ home, ate a marijuana cookie on his own, and downed at least two beers from pitchers shared with friends, according to his testimony.
One of those friends was Laugle, who was 26. She’d invited him to a Mountlake Terrace pub, Spieker told the jury. Afterward the two left in his Nissan 370Z sports car, with a plan to relax around a fire at his house with others in the group.
Spieker testified that a friend, who was driving in front of him, was already 10 to 15 mph over the speed limit on 48th Avenue W, when he tried to pass.
“Unofficially, the speed limit is almost like 35, 40 on that road, when you drive,” he said on the witness stand in May. “So it’s kind of like the norm, I felt like.”
Spieker lost control to the right as he tried to get back into his lane. The Nissan lurched over a curb, slammed into a tree and caught fire. Laugle died.
Her brother, Steven Laugle, recounted learning the news from a text message at 1 a.m. He hurried to his parents’ home, and his mother collapsed in his arms, weeping.
“I never felt so empty in my life,” her brother said. “ … I keep expecting Staci to just walk in the door at any minute. Feels like I could just pull out my phone and text her. My sister is gone.”
Spieker suffered no serious injuries. His blood-alcohol level was measured at .049, based on a sample taken 2½ hours after the crash. He had 4.7 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, just below the legal limit of 5 nanograms for the active ingredient in marijuana.
The defendant testified he didn’t feel affected by the substances. His attorney, Jon Scott, argued at trial that state troopers did not observe clear signs of intoxication.
The jury couldn’t agree on whether Spieker was impaired, but found him guilty of reckless driving leading to a death.
Laugle had met Spieker when she worked as a barista.
“She was his friend,” Scott said Thursday. “He did not intend for this to happen. He made an impulsive, reckless and stupid decision, and it ended in this terrible tragedy. But it was a moment in time. It wasn’t an indictment for how he has lived his life, and how he will live his life going forward.”
In a statement to the judge, Staci’s mother Wendy Laugle said the defendant could have taken responsibility by pleading guilty. Instead, Laugle’s family was haunted by disturbing photos and testimony from the trial, she said.
“Our hope is that one day, the defendant will truly comprehend the pain and sorrow he’s caused,” she said.
After the guilty verdict, Spieker went to a party with an off-and-on girlfriend late on June 21. As they left, some of Spieker’s friends asked the girlfriend for her number, to keep in touch with her while Spieker was in prison. That made him “very jealous,” according to police.
She drove him home, and they argued in the parked car. She hit him in the chest and told him to get out, she told police. He struck her twice in the face. Everything went black, she reported. He gave her a yellow rag for her broken and bleeding nose, then got out of the car.
Police reports say Spieker weighs about 245 pounds.
She is hardly more than half his size.
She spoke with police outside an emergency room in Covington.
Later the girlfriend texted police saying she no longer wished to press charges because she didn’t want to go through a trial, and because Spieker was already going to prison for years. Spieker was arrested nonetheless for investigation of second-degree assault.
He reportedly told Edmonds police there had been no physical fight.
Before the deadly crash, Spieker had no criminal record.
“In this particular case, Mr. Spieker essentially played Russian roulette with somebody else’s life,” the judge said. “When you play Russian roulette, sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes the ultimate awful thing happens.”
Farris banned him from possessing alcohol or drugs for 1½ years after he’s released from prison, and he cannot drive until he has completed treatment for substance abuse.
“Michael,” the judge said, “I know this seems like a horrible and scary thing to you. … You will have decades ahead of you. So you should want to live that life in a manner so that nothing like this happens again. Staci will not have that chance to have decades ahead of her.”
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.