By Conrad Dudderar
A semi-truck driver has been sentenced to serve 50 years in state prison, with 15 years suspended, for causing a crash that killed a Yukon businessman.
Donald Garrett Biffle, 27, was formally sentenced at a March 3rd hearing before District Judge Jack D. McCurdy in Canadian County District Court.
Biffle previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
Biffle, of Wynnewood, faced life in prison for his role in a deadly traffic collision Nov. 24, 2019 at the State Highway 66/Banner Road intersection. Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers determined Biffle failed to yield and was under the influence of drugs.
Yukon’s Ray Lee Davis, 73, died at the scene of blunt force trauma after the 2019 Kawasaki motorcycle he was operating struck Biffle’s 1996 Peterbilt semi-truck and trailer.
The victim was a U.S. Navy veteran who founded and owned a retail carpet store in Yukon.
Before pronouncing sentence, Judge McCurdy pointed out Davis was a well loved and respected man and his death has left a “huge void in all these people’s lives.”
“I can’t fill that void,” McCurdy said. “I’m simply trying to give the victims some justice and some peace by my decision. At the same time, I’m trying to protect the citizens of the State of Oklahoma from any further destruction by Mr. Biffle.
“Drugs have created a person and a situation that leaves little room for corrective measures. Mr. Biffle has had numerous, numerous chances to correct his drug use and addiction.”
Four of Davis’ family members gave victim impact statements at Biffle’s sentencing hearing.
Judge McCurdy sentenced Biffle on the second-degree murder count to 50 years in state Department of Corrections’ custody with 35 years to serve and 15 years suspended. He will be supervised by DOC after his release from prison.
“Under the circumstances, this is an appropriate sentence based on Mr. Biffle’s actions and Mr. Biffle’s prior history,” the judge said.
McCurdy also gave Biffle one-year concurrent sentences in county jail on the two drug counts.
Biffle was ordered to pay fines and victim’s compensation assessments.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Epplin told Judge McCurdy the Canadian County community and Davis’ family were “robbed of so much, for no good reason at all”, losing a good family man and successful businessman.
The prosecutor detailed Biffle’s extensive past drug use and criminal history, and his “continuing pattern” of disobeying court orders and probation violations.
“He was offered help for his meth issues, but did nothing,” Epplin said.
The ADA referred to Biffle’s actions at the crash scene when he didn’t help or comfort Davis – or even call 911. Epplin asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
Defense attorney Pat Pate said his client had shown remorse and pleaded guilty to the charges, thus admitting wrongdoing – the first step to recovery and redemption.
OHP traffic homicide investigator Michael Wallace testified at the March 3rd sentencing that Biffle “appeared to be in a trance” and a blood test showed methamphetamine in his system. A meth pipe was founded behind his driver’s side seat.
Wallace testified there was no reason Biffle shouldn’t have been able to see the motorcycle.
FAMILY MEMBERS ADDRESS COURT
In their victim’s impact statements presented before Biffle was sentenced, family members talked about the legacy Davis left. The victim was a motorcycle and gun enthusiast.
Daughter Candace Schwarz described the grief of her father’s absence as “vivid and intense”. She talked about living with increased panic, fear and anxiety; being on edge and having difficulty sleeping and concentrating.
Schwarz noted that Biffle – having deliberately driven through a stop sign – intentionally chose not to help her dying father or dial 911 after the November 2019 traffic collision.
“He killed an innocent man out for a Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride just a few minutes from his home,” she said.
Schwarz shared lengthy details about Biffle’s criminal history and police interactions, describing how he “slipped through the legal cracks” after repeatedly testing positive for meth use while on probation for past offenses.
Despite Biffle being on the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ Meth Registry, Schwarz said he was able to drive an “oversized killing machine he used to kill my dad.”
She cited his years of persistent drug use, lack of concern after the crash and high risk to society.
“My dad and my family deserve accountability,” Schwarz told Judge McCurdy, asking he be removed from the public as long as possible.
Daughter Carey Vincent described her late father’s personality that would “fill up a room”, saying he was “never one to sit still.”
“His lived his life full of energy, joy and laughter,” she related.
Vincent and her children will grieve the loss “for the rest of our lives.”
She also questioned how Biffle could obtain a commercial driver’s license and keep driving with his drug history.
“He was not held accountable for his past offenses,” Vincent said.
Widow Debbie Davis said her husband was the most energetic person she’d ever met and “truly a good man.”
“I am proud of the man he was and his accomplishments,” she said. “He was a Godly and loving man.
“He loved to tease and was generous with his time and money.
Adults and children alike “loved Ray”, she noted.
“He added color to my life that was not there before,” Debbie said.
Ray Davis was killed just three days shy of their 24th wedding anniversary. He loved riding his motorcycle.
“It relaxed him,” his widow shared.
Biffle’s actions on that fateful day destroyed both his life and her family, she added.
Debbie Davis talked about the “light and laughter” Ray had brought to her life.
“I am alone missing my husband,” she said.
In closing, Debbie noted Biffle was give many opportunities to change his life and she prays he will find the Lord.
Doy Davis said he his brother Ray were best friends who enjoyed living close to each other and going on motorcycle rides.
He described being in a “cloud of grief” after his brother’s death.
The family’s misery was caused by a “drug-addicted driver” who must be “held accountable” or he will kill again, Doy told Judge McCurdy.