A judge, admonishing the defendant for his lack of compassion, Friday sentenced Gary Haw, a 25-year-old Laguna Niguel man, to two years in state prison for felony hit-and-run driving and falsely claiming that his father had been driving the sports car that killed a bicyclist.
As Jelte Klein, the father of the dead youth, Jason Theodore Klein, 17, looked on, Superior Court Judge James K. Turner also sentenced Haw’s father, Ronald A. Haw, 50, to one year in Orange County Jail and three years’ probation for taking part in the scheme to gain insurance coverage for his damaged $80,000 Porsche.
Before the sentencing in a Newport Beach courtroom, both father and son apologized repeatedly for their actions after the fatal crash in September, 1987. But their terse confessions swayed neither Turner nor the victim’s family, who pointed out that neither man had shown any remorse before Friday.
“Ever since the accident, I’ve spent the last year, at least, trying to do it right,” Gary Haw said before the sentencing. “I don’t want to deceive anyone anymore. I want to tell the truth. What I did that night was wrong.”
‘Stupid and Wrong’
His father, Ronald Haw, said, “My actions were totally stupid and wrong. . . . I know I was wrong, and I only have myself to blame.”
But Turner, recalling how he felt during the trial as Ronald Haw repeatedly denied doing anything wrong, said Friday from the bench, “I thought to myself, ‘My God, how could any man seeming so intelligent and educated not think an insurance fraud was wrong?’ ”
Turner went on to say he doubted that either father or son ever would have admitted what they did, had they not been found out by police.
“Mr. Ronald Haw, let me tell you, you have a lot to be thankful for in law enforcement,” Turner said.
Before sentencing the younger Haw, the judge said, “Any human being that night that had a sense of compassion about him would have stopped the car immediately.”
Both the Haws wore grim, stony-faced expressions throughout the court session, even as the victim’s father denounced them.
In a dramatic voice that boomed across the courtroom, Klein read a statement condemning the two men for thinking of their expensive car while his son’s body lay in the road and asking the judge to impose a tough sentence.
“Where was Gary?” Klein asked again and again. “Was Gary helping Jason or to protect his body? . . .
“We never heard from Gary and Ronald Haw. No sorry, no condolence from either of the two men . . . . By the way, it was Jason’s birthday yesterday. He would have been 19.”
Gary Haw was driving his father’s Porsche on Alicia Parkway on Sept. 8, 1987, when he passed a van that had slowed for Jason Klein on his bicycle. Haw, who was going 70 m.p.h., according to CHP officials, struck Klein, throwing him more than 300 feet and killing him on impact.
Instead of immediately pulling over, Haw coasted to a stop, then went to a pay phone to call his father. Panicked about the car’s insurance, which did not cover Gary Haw because he was under 25 at the time, the two hatched a scheme in which the father would race down from Culver City and wander near the accident, while the son told CHP officials that his father was the driver and had left the scene in a daze.
The two recanted the story the next day, after a CHP officer, who doubted them, told the father that it was illegal to give false information to an officer.
Gary Haw’s sentencing Friday stemmed from convictions for felony hit and run, felony conspiracy to obstruct justice and lying to a police officer, a misdemeanor. His father was convicted of the last two charges.
Gary Haw was acquitted of vehicular manslaughter because the judge did not find him guilty of gross negligence.
Before sentencing the two, Turner said, “I recognize the strong bond between the father and the son. I have two kids of my own. . . .
"(But) if ever there was a conspiracy in this world, it was the conspiracy between father and son . . . that evening. . . .
“And why did (they) do it? Because of insurance purposes.”
Told of Car
Before the two were sentenced, Ron Renzoni, who is married to the dead youth’s sister, testified that on June 5, Gary Haw sped past him at about 70 m.p.h. on Interstate 5 in the same car that killed his brother-in-law.
Asked by Gary Haw’s defense attorney, Paul Meyer, whether the incident upset him, Renzoni said:
“To see him drive in the same fashion that killed Jason, in the same car, and not having learned anything. Yes. I was very agitated.”
Haw denied that he was driving recklessly and said he was going about 65 m.p.h., the same speed as the other cars in the fast lane on that day.
His explanation, however, did not convince Turner, who said before the sentencing, “And now, for the first time, I learn today that since that trial . . . there is Gary out on the highway again . . . same old story.”
Jason’s sister, Anne Renzoni, said of Friday’s sentencing, “I would have liked to see them get a little bit more, but I don’t know if even jail could have done much for them. . . .
“If he (Gary Haw) doesn’t learn anything from it, (at least) it’ll keep him off the road for a while. Maybe he’ll learn something from it. . . . He definitely does need to learn something. . . . Nothing will bring back our little Jason.”
Gary Haw was taken into custody after the sentencing. Ronald Haw was given two months to put his affairs in order before surrendering to serve his sentence.