POCATELLO — A local man who killed a bicyclist in a collision last year was sentenced Friday to at least four years in prison.
Tyler Darwin Carter, 39, was sentenced to spend four to 10 years in prison for the felony charge of involuntary manslaughter by District Judge Rick Carnoroli. He was also sentenced to four to five years in prison for the felony charge of leaving the scene of an injury accident. Those sentences will be served concurrently.
Carter pleaded guilty earlier this month.
Before delivering his sentence, Carnaroli told the courtroom that part of his job is determining which crimes should result in a prison sentence. Penitentiaries in the state are currently “busting at the seams,” he said, so he must consider all rehabilitation options prior to handing out a prison sentence.
“You are one of those persons who needs to go (to prison), Mr. Carter,” he said. “… Society needs to know that there’s a consequence, a significant consequence that goes with this particular crime.”
Carter reached a plea agreement in May that involved a rider rehabilitation program. But Carnaroli nixed the agreement and said Friday that the punishment proposed did not fit the crime, leading to a second agreement. The second agreement stipulated he plead guilty in exchange for a concurrent sentence.
According to police reports, Carter struck 40-year-old bicyclist Bobette “Bobbi” Wilhelm around 6:30 p.m. March 13, 2020, on Buckskin Road. Rather than providing assistance, Carter left the scene, went to a convenience store, then returned home, taking a route that would not pass the scene of the collision.
Wilhelm was not determined missing until the following Monday, March 16, when she did not come to work. Her body was found later that day.
When questioned by police regarding damage to his vehicle after being connected to the incident, Carter told officers that he believed he struck a deer. But investigators discovered the nose clip from a pair of sunglasses Wilhelm was wearing at the time of the collision in the bed of Carter’s truck — linking her using DNA analysis.
Wilhelm’s sisters address the court
“Tyler Carter left my sister to suffer, maybe for days. She was left in danger and in unimaginable pain. She died alone in the cold.”
Before Carter was sentenced, Wilhelm’s sisters and close friends provided victim impact statements.
Those who spoke provided the description of a woman who overcame adversity, from health issues to homelessness, to find success. Wilhelm was described as someone who gave to others when she had nothing, even going so far as to furnish her newly purchased home to allow for the boarding of those who were faced with the growing COVID-19 pandemic and eventual shutdown.
Bobette’s identical twin sister, Angela Wilhelm, said she never felt the “magical” connection with her twin until the Monday when Bobette’s body was discovered. While searching for her sister, Angela said she could hear her muffled, cracking screams — screams she feels came from the agonizing pain she believed Wilhelm to be in as she lay dying.
“Bobette did not die right away,” she said. “Tyler Carter left my sister to suffer, maybe for days. She was left in danger and in unimaginable pain. She died alone in the cold.”
Investigation of the area where Bobette’s body was found showed that, following the collision, the injured biker removed her helmet and gloves and crawled under a juniper tree for shelter.
Tara Daley, another of Bobette’s sisters, called giving her victim impact statement “the most difficult, uncomfortable, most awkward, painful thing” she has ever had to do.
“With every loss of human life, there’s a ripple effect,” she said. “Because of the person Bobbi was, those ripples reach far and wide.”
Daley described her actions the day her sister’s body was found, saying that she sat in her car for hours watching detectives investigate the scene.
She thanked the first responders for finding her sister’s body in mere hours — noting that many in her situation are never granted that closure.
Then she expanded on the impact the loss has had on her life: that her children are afraid to ride their bikes, for fear of injury or death; and that her daughter is afraid of driving, for fear of killing a biker.
Daley then asked for the most extensive penalty the law would allow, not the two-year minimum the defense had requested.
“Your honor, Tyler Carter doesn’t deserve two years,” she said. “That’s nothing. He deserves the maximum sentence you can possibly give him. He chose not to stop to render aid to Bobbi.”
After hearing the statements of the victim’s loved ones, Carnaroli offered Carter the chance to speak.
“I can’t take back what happened,” he said. “I can’t take back what I did. If I could trade her places I would. I want (Wilhelm’s family) to know how sorry I am, I want my family to know how sorry I am.”
He then told Carnaroli that he would accept the penalty for his crimes.
In addition to the prison sentence, Carter has been ordered to pay $4,003.85 in restitution to the estate of Bobette Wilhelm and $1,500 in fines, as well as court costs.
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