A West Windsor woman who drove drunk one day back in 2012 ramming her car into a man walking his dog, requiring his leg to be amputated above the knee and the dog to be euthanized; will serve a sentence of 3 years of weekend jail instead of 4 total years in jail as had been agreed to by a prosecutor and her lawyer.

The reason for the change in sentence?

None given as it was totally at the discretion of the judge in the case, Superior Court Judge Thomas Brown.

Do you feel the judge was being too lenient in reducing the sentence from 4 years down to every weekend for the next 3 years?

According to this:

Ajanta Baral veered off the road at the intersection of Clarksville Road and North Post Road and struck Arnold Chen as he was walking (his dog) Holly on the sidewalk, prosecutors said. As a result of the crash, Chen’s leg had to be amputated above the knee.

“The crash injured several major arteries in my leg, and I later heard my blood was pouring out of my arteries and into the drain,” Chen said before the sentencing.

In September, Baral pleaded guilty to a DWI charge. Her blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .303, almost four times the legal limit, prosecutor Skylar Weissman said.
Baral said that she was drinking at her home and received a call from her neighbor, who asked her to go to her house and feed her dogs.

“This wasn’t a situation where she drove to a bar,” Baral’s lawyer Brian Heyesey said. “She exercised poor judgment.”

After the crash, Baral checked into an in-patient substance abuse program in Princeton and has been continuing outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse and depression, Heyesey said.

“She’s dealing with the issues she had on Aug. 4, 2012. She’s no longer drinking,” he said.
Holly was taken to an animal hospital after the accident where she was euthanized days later because of a spinal cord injury that would have left her paralyzed and incontinent, Chen said.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever get another dog, because I don’t know if I’ll ever walk well enough to walk another dog,” Chen said, pointing to pictures of Holly that he hung on a bulletin board in the court room. “We miss Holly every day.”

Baral, a stay-at-home wife and mother of two adult children, said she is ashamed of her actions and knows the pain of losing a pet.

“I made the mistake of taking the car and I feel guilty,” Baral said. “The guilt and shame will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Prosecutors and Baral had originally agreed to a plea deal that would put Baral in jail for four years, but Superior Court Judge Thomas Brown reduced the sentence.

Baral will spend every weekend for the next three years in county jail, submit to alcohol tests, undergo a mental health evaluation and continue treatment for her substance abuse.
She paid restitution in the amount of $37,944.68, to reimburse Chen for his medical costs. She also must perform 100 hours of community service, which Brown said he hopes involves informing others about the dangers of drinking and driving.

“While driving while drunk and hitting Arnold, Ms. Baral has imprisoned Arnold with his disability,” Chen’s wife Mo Chen said. “She will be serving much less time than my husband will.”

So why do you think the judge was so lenient? Could it be that, according to this:

Baral’s lawyer, Brian Heyesey, asked the judge to give her 180 days in prison and probation after Baral herself apologized to Chen and his family and friends in court and said she has gotten counseling for alcoholism and depression.

Heyesey said she also loves dogs and only went out that evening only because a friend had called and asked to her to drive over to feed her pets dogs.

Heyesey said Baral, who takes care of a husband with a heart condition, will begin serving her first weekend in jail on Friday evening.

So what are the mitigating factors here: She takes care of her husband with a heart condition. Perhaps she was about to perform a favor for a friend and feed the friends’ dogs; or she’s apologized to the Chen family and admitted that what she’s done goes beyond forgiveness.

In your mind, should this be enough to warrant lessening a sentence down from 4 years in jail to weekend jail for 3 years. You be the judge!

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