LISBON — Joseph M. Matz was driving nearly 100 mph when he crashed into the home of Joshua and Jennifer Moreland in January 2021.
The impact literally moved the foundation’s home and changed the lives of everyone involved, fatally wounding Jennifer Moreland, 41, and seriously injuring Joshua Moreland, who saw them both fly through the wall of the room of the house.
On Friday, Court of Common Pleas Judge Scott Washam sentenced Matz, 21, of Bayard Road, Homeworth, to between seven and 10 years in prison with a lifetime driving license suspension.
The sentencing came after victim impact statements from seven of Jennifer Moreland’s family and friends. It also came after Matz said not a day goes by that he doesn’t want to be able to trade places with Moreland.
Matz and his defense attorney, Ronald Yarwood, both said he needed mental help and self-medicated by smoking and drinking. Yarwood noted that unlike many similar cases, Matz did not leave the scene that night.
“This night will always be in my head, stuck, I can’t get it out.” Matz said. “Taking a life will be stuck with me for the rest of my life. I know you don’t want to hear it, but I think about her every day. Every day I wish I could go back and do that day again.
Matz went on to say that he remained at the scene and asked those who responded to treat them first. He then asked law enforcement why he had not been arrested.
“I know you probably hate me and want me to go away,” Matz said. “If it was my mother, I would hate the person and I would want them gone too.”
Yarwood said Matz took responsibility and passed 37 drug tests since the crash, proving he took the “Monumentally poor decisions he made” and changed for the better.
“These are tough cases, Judge, the defendant did not seek to do any harm in this case, but he should have been able to foresee how dangerous and deadly his choice to get behind the wheel was that night “, he added. said the county’s chief assistant prosecutor, Ryan Weikart. “Probably the most difficult aspect of these cases is that the victims cannot recover what they have lost.”
According to Weikart, Matz admitted to drinking 10 beers that night and using marijuana before choosing to drive. His blood alcohol level was 0.147. A module in the vehicle was able to tell investigators that it was traveling at 99.6 miles per hour when it left the roadway, crossed the yard and hit the house where the bedroom was located.
Unlike most vehicular death cases, the Morelands were not on the road or riding with the driver, who was under the influence, Weikart noted. They were in bed in their own home, which must have been a safe place.
“They weren’t able in their house to anticipate even such an outcome,” Weikart said.
Weikart sought a six-year sentence for the aggravated vehicular homicide and an additional year in prison for the aggravated vehicular assault charge.
“The truth remains that this defendant will one day be able to find a job, start a family, enjoy his family and move forward,” Weikart said. “The Moreland family doesn’t have that luxury. Jennifer Moreland was taken too soon. Joshua will not have his wife. The Moreland children will grow up and reach milestones in their own lives without their mother. The Moreland family will never be complete.
Joshua Moreland has spoken about the impact of what happened on January 3, 2021, the day he said he lost his wife and best friend.
“The first impact was when a large truck traveling at 100 mph drove through my house…” he said. “The second impact was me and my wife flying through our bedroom wall…the third impact, which was the most difficult, was getting my children to see this…The fourth impact was waking up in the hospital to be told my wife is dead.”
Although he said he knew Washam couldn’t bring her back, he asked her to do something about it.
Kylee Moreland, the daughter, opened up about her relationship with her mother and how she reacted after joining her mother and father from another part of the house.
“I was 15 at the time and I didn’t deserve this” she says. “I didn’t deserve to see my father thrown through a wall, hitting the ceiling and crashing to the floor causing him so much damage. I didn’t deserve to see my mother buried under broken wood, household objects, insulation, etc.
Kylee Moreland said she tried to pull her mother out and at some point fell into a hole and was too weak to pull her out.
“His last words to me were ‘help me, help me, help me'” said Moreland. “The last words she heard from me were ‘I’ll get you out of here, I promise.’ Since then, I have made no promises.
She went to help her father who she said was panicking, she took her dog out. She spoke of her gratitude to the first responders who arrived.
“The last time I saw my mother she was in a hole, blood all over her face and broken bones visible,” said Kylee Moreland. She went on to quote the lyrics to her mother’s favorite song “Time” and told the judge that she did not realize, as she was walking with her mother listening to this music, that her mother’s time was running out.
Kyle Moreland, the son also spoke about the difficulties of losing his mother, who was his number one friend and fan.
“The things I was to see that night, I wouldn’t wish on anyone.” said Kyle Moreland. “From my father 12 feet from his bedroom face down in the kitchen, to my mother saying ‘help me’ in the hole she died in.”
He also thanked the first responders, who arrived and he asked for justice for his mother and her family.
Washam also heard from Jennifer Moreland’s father, who said his wife had been living in his room since it happened, and Jennifer Moreland’s aunt, who said she was worried about her. She noted
his cousin and one of his best friends also spoke before the sentencing, each saying they had forgiven Matz, even though they could not forget what he had done to the family, how much the they missed having in their lives.
“I know she would like us all to live our best life right now and it’s really hard, but we’re trying,”says a friend, Mel Kuntzman. “I know she would want us to forgive.”
She noted that she was also trying to forgive herself for leaving that night, despite being home two hours before her friend died.