Eagle man who drove drunk and killed 24-year-old woman receives new prison sentence

Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

An Eagle man who hit and killed a Boise woman while driving drunk in 2017 received a new, tougher sentence for the crime.

Adam Paulson, 47, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter by a jury in 2018 and again in January. He had been retried after the Idaho Supreme Court set aside the first felony conviction, with justices saying the jury panel was not informed of key details in the case.

At the Ada County Courthouse on Friday, District Judge Derrick O’Neill sentenced Paulson to 15 years in prison, with five years fixed. The judge gave him credit for the more than five years he’d already served.

Paulson was driving drunk in his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck on the night of Nov. 18, 2017, when he struck and killed Madeline Duskey, 24, who was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Eagle Road and Riverside Drive in Eagle. Paulson’s blood alcohol content was 0.213% — nearly three times the legal limit, according to evidence presented during both trials.

He was found guilty by a jury in November 2018, and District Judge Deborah Bail sentenced him in January 2019 to time served and 15 years of probation. The sentence drew criticism for being too lenient.

But Paulson’s bail was revoked and his underlying prison sentence imposed in June 2019 after Bail discovered he had intentionally tampered with an alcohol-monitoring device he was required to wear during his probation. Paulson could have been eligible for parole in January 2023, according to previous reporting by the Idaho Statesman.

Paulson successfully appealed, setting up the second trial.

On Friday, as Duskey’s family members looked on from the wooden courtroom benches, O’Neill handed down the new 15-year prison sentence and ordered Paulson to pay $5,000 in fines to her two surviving children, who are now 6 and 8 years old. The judge also ordered that, once his driving privileges are reinstated, his driver’s license be suspended for 15 years.

Duskey’s mother, father and stepmother testified about the loss of their child.

“Life, for me, is now split into two — before Adam entered my life and after Adam entered my life,” Duskey’s mother said as she took the stand during the hearing. “I have lost my only child who I loved with my entire being. I am no longer a mother of a living child, and I am no longer of an age where I can have children. My husband and I have no living children, and I deeply miss having a family. The hole that this has left cannot be filled and cannot be hidden.”

O’Neill left the issue of restitution and child support, which Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Heather Reilly said the state is seeking, open for 60 days. Paulson’s defense counsel objected to paying child support to Duskey’s two children, who no longer have a mother.

The maximum penalty for felony vehicular manslaughter is 15 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine, according to Idaho law.

Before receiving the new sentence, Paulson made a statement before the judge. He told O’Neill that if he “could go back in time and change everything” he would, and that he “know(s) Madeline Duskey’s life matters.”

In response, the judge said he appreciated Paulson’s comments but has grave concerns for public safety anytime he deliberates a case involving someone driving under the influence. He said, “This isn’t a debate over whose life matters. Every life matters.”