The justice system can only bring brief semisweet relief after a collision as terrible as the one Mark Mullan caused on NE 75th Street March 25.
Mullan pleaded guilty today to the charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. He verbally admitted to the court and to the Schulte family that it was his fault Dennis and Judy Schulte are dead and Karina and Elias are still recovering. He will be sentenced to a little over 18 years in prison if the plea deal goes through.
Indeed, Dan Schulte — the son of Dennis and Judy, husband of Karina and father of Elias — told reporters afterwards that he is relieved Mullan has taken responsibility for his actions. And he certainly deserves relief.
Traffic violence has devastated so many lives in Seattle, King County and the world. Even when the justice system follows through, it can do so little to heal the immense pain caused by avoidable collisions at the hands of our neighbors.
From the King County Prosecutor:
Guilty Plea in State v. Mark Mullan: Repeat drunk driver Mark W. Mullan pleaded guilty this morning as charged to four felony charges for a drunk driving collision that killed two grandparents and seriously injured their daughter-in-law and infant grandson in Seattle’s Wedgewood neighborhood on March 25. Mullan pleaded guilty to two counts each of Vehicular Homicide (DUI) and Vehicular Assault (DUI), and violation of an Ignition Interlock Device order. The collision killed Judy and Dennis Schulte. Their daughter-in-law Karina Ulriksen-Schulte and grandson Elias, who was 10 days old, were seriously injured are still recovering from their injuries. Mullan, 51, faces a sentence range of 14 to 18 years in prison, which includes a 24-month sentencing enhancement stemming from his prior conviction for drunk driving in Seattle Municipal Court. Prosecutors will recommend a top of the range sentence of 18 years in prison when Mullan is sentenced on November 15 at 1:45 p.m. before Judge Barbara Linde at the King County Courthouse.
“This heartbreaking case led to some overdue changes in the law, thanks in part to the courage of the family,” said Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney. “The defendant today pled guilty as charged to the top end of the sentencing range,” he added, “and the plea brings finality and closure to the case, and will keep the defendant in prison, and the public safer, for many years to come,” he said.
Satterberg along with other county prosecutors pushed for tougher sentences for vehicular homicide (DUI) in the 2012 legislative session. The Legislature approved a bill that doubled the standard range for vehicular homicide (DUI), making it equal to a sentence for manslaughter first degree. Under the old range, Mullan’s sentence would have been approximately 7 ½ to 9 ½ years instead of the 14 to 18 years that he faces today.