Bonita Springs man gets year in jail for death of wife in golf cart crash

Kenneth McCafferty

Kenneth McCafferty

Marilyn McCafferty

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Marilyn McCafferty

Two years since Marilyn McCafferty fell from a golf cart and died of head injuries in Bonita Springs, two questions have plagued the investigation:

Was her husband, Kenneth, drunk behind the wheel?

And did Marilyn fall from the cart on her own, or was she thrown as a result of her husband hitting a curb?

With no clear answer to either question, prosecutors offered and Kenneth McCafferty agreed to a plea deal Monday that will keep the 46-year-old Bonita Springs man in jail for 364 days and on probation for a maximum of 10 years. McCafferty, who pleaded no contest to a charge of vehicular homicide, faced a maximum 15-year prison sentence if convicted. He won’t receive credit for time already served.

The period of incarceration is less than Marilyn McCafferty’s daughter, Kimberly Brown, had wanted, and shorter than most pleas in vehicular homicide cases.

But Brown said she expects Kenneth McCafferty, who has a history of DUI-related arrests, will get behind the wheel while drunk again. About 14 months after his wife’s death, law enforcement in Lee County arrested McCafferty for DUI, a charge which he’s expected to plead to on Wednesday.

“I would like for him to have more time (incarcerated),” Brown said after Monday’s hearing. “But I’m banking on that he will violate probation because he did have another DUI after my mother’s death.”

Witnesses said Kenneth McCafferty and his 66-year-old wife were speeding down a street in Spring Creek Village when they approached a curb. The golf cart then flipped, but accounts differ as to whether Marilyn McCafferty, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.16, fell out before the vehicle overturned.

Investigators made contact on the scene with Kenneth McCafferty, but deputies failed to obtain a blood sample from him. Blood tests, which showed a BAC of twice the legal driving limit, weren’t drawn until two hours after the crash, leaving open the possibility that Kenneth McCafferty consumed alcohol in the time between the crash and the blood draw.

Kenneth McCafferty’s lawyer, Michael Hornung, called the crash “a tragic accident” and maintained his client wasn’t drunk at the time.

“He’s been devastated. I can’t tell you some of the hard times he’s gone through,” Hornung said.

Hornung said his client “has been victimized” as well, noting the plea agreement was taken in large part because Kenneth McCafferty faced 15 years in prison if convicted by a jury.

“When you look at the full facts, the impairment, the alcohol, it did play a part on Mrs. McCafferty falling from that golf cart,” Hornung said. “It’s a plea of convenience.”

Hornung attributed Kenneth McCafferty’s post-crash DUI to depression stemming from his wife’s death. Brown said she wasn’t surprised by the arrest.

“It was something I kind of knew in the back of my mind was inevitable because he’s just not a fixable type of person,” Brown said.

A prosecutor didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday. In a Lee County Sheriff’s Office report written one week after the crash, a sergeant wrote there were “many issues” involved with the responding deputy’s handling of the scene, including the failure to keep Kenneth McCafferty at the crash site.

The responding deputy, Robert DePriest, received four days of remedial training.

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