A Platte County judge sentenced a Kansas City man Thursday to six years in prison for killing a man while speeding and driving under the influence of several prescription drugs.
Anthony J. Battaglia, 30, pleaded guilty in April to involuntary manslaughter and possession of a controlled substance.
“No one should ever get behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle while under the influence,” Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said in a written statement.
That’s true, Zahnd said, in cases of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs.
“As this case tragically proves, the consequences can be deadly,” he said.
On Feb. 10, 2014, Battaglia’s GMC Yukon left Missouri 152 in Parkville and rear-ended a Chevrolet Malibu parked on the highway’s shoulder.
Inside the Malibu were Donald G. Rippy and his grandson. Rippy had been following his grandson on the highway when the grandson’s car overheated. The flasher lights on Rippy’s Malibu were turned on while he and his grandson waited for the other car’s engine to cool.
Emergency medical personnel took Rippy to North Kansas City Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Doctors also treated the grandson.
Missouri Highway Patrol officers noted that Battaglia appeared disoriented at the scene. Investigators arrested Battaglia and obtained a search warrant for his blood.
According to court records, an investigation revealed that Battaglia’s vehicle had been traveling at 82 mph just before the impact. An analysis of Battaglia’s blood showed that it contained several substances contained in legal prescription medications, among them alprazolam.
Battaglia did not have a prescription for alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax.
Zahnd had recommended a 10-year prison sentence. Battaglia’s lawyers had sought a four-month sentence with treatment followed by probation. Platte County Circuit Judge Thomas Fincham issued the six-year sentence after considering the case for two weeks.
“We always believed prison was appropriate in this case,” Zahnd said.
“While the defendant did not mean for anyone to die that night, we need to send the message that if you drive under the influence and kill someone, you will see the inside of a prison cell.”