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BILLINGS - A former congressional aide serving a 10-year sentence for driving drunk and causing a crash that killed one of his friends will be released from state custody within days.

On Thursday, District Judge Ingrid Gustafson shortened 30-year-old John P. Carey's sentence for the April 2008 death of 28-year-old Matthew Wilder of Billings. The remaining eight years of his sentence will be suspended.

Carey is accused going nearly 80 mph through a Billings neighborhood with Wilder as a passenger when he lost control of the car and crashed into a concrete wall. Prosecutors say Carey's blood-alcohol level was 0.189 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

At the time of the crash, he worked for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus' campaign office in Bozeman. Carey, who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, resigned from Baucus' staff after the crash.

Gustafson said she shortened the sentence because of Carey's success in at least two substance abuse programs and his completion of a state boot camp program. He had two prior DUI convictions, and in another case was charged with reckless driving when he refused to give officers a breath sample.

Carey, who spoke at Thursday's hearing by video from a Great Falls probation office, told the judge he understands the damage he caused in the lives of the victim's family and has tried to better himself through treatment and by talking at meetings about his decision to drink and drive.

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"I was part of the problem," he said. "I don't want to be part of the problem any more. I want to be part of the solution."

But Wilder's father, H.B. Wilder, said justice had not yet been served.

"I mean, people who forge checks spend more time in prison," he said. He called the ordeal "the worst nightmare you can ever imagine."

 

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