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Montana Highway Patrol investigator Rob Strauch looks at evidence on the sidewalk Thursday, May 16, along the 600 block of North Fifth Street in Missoula after a woman was killed in the early morning hours by a driver allegedly under the influence of alcohol struck her and another woman as they walked on the sidewalk. 

A Missoula man was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday for driving onto a sidewalk while intoxicated and running over two sisters, killing one of them.

Missoula County District Judge Ed McLean sentenced Tom Vineyard to 30 years in the Montana State Prison with 20 years suspended for vehicular homicide while driving under the influence and negligent vehicular homicide.

Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks was pleased with the sentence.

“I was really happy with the outcome today,” Marks said. “It’s a situation where it’s tragic for all parties included, but at the end of the day, justice was served.”

Vineyard pleaded guilty late last year for the May 16, 2012, accident that killed Roberta Demmert, 39, and left her sister, 41-year-old Pamela Demmert, with a broken leg.

Pamela Demmert told police that she and her sister were on their way to buy cigarettes at 1:30 a.m. when Vineyard struck them as they walked down the sidewalk on North Fifth Street West.

The sisters were found lying on the sidewalk by a responding officer. Vineyard’s truck was on its side in a residential yard.

Roberta Demmert was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vineyard’s blood-alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of accident. In return for his guilty plea, he had asked for 30 years in prison with 25 years suspended.

McLean rejected that offer Friday, sentencing Vineyard to 30 years with 20 years suspended. Marks said he’ll be eligible for parole in 2 1/2 years.

“The judge indicated he was going to suspend less of the sentence,” Marks said. “Mr. Vineyard, to his credit, accepted his sentence.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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