SCRANTON — A man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to driving drunk and killing his roommate in a crash could be out of jail by January and that’s at the request of the victim’s family.
A judge gave the lenient sentence Wednesday because family members want to turn their tragedy into something positive.
Matthew Gajdys and Michael Evans were close friends and roommates. They were on their way home near Moscow in February when Gajdys crashed. Evans didn’t make it, and Gajdys was arrested just a day later. All along Evans’ family asked for leniency for the man who killed their son. The majority of his sentence starts after he is released from prison.
Michael Evans of Archbald was killed in February when he was thrown from his Jeep on Route 435 outside Moscow. Behind the wheel was Evans’ old friend who had recently fallen on hard times.
His family says Evans was compassionate and forgiving, sometimes to a fault, so they decided to show his killer the same kindness. The Evans family pleaded with a judge for leniency for Gajdys.
“One of the reasons we asked for leniency, as I said in my letter, is my brother and Matt made a mistake that night. They both got in that car knowing they were both intoxicated. My brother paid for that mistake with his life, Matt’s price we don’t know,” said the victim’s sister Mary Considine.
The Evans family spoke with us after the hearing in Lackawanna County court. A judge sentenced Gajdys to 11 to 22 months in county jail, but he’s already served 10 months so could be released as soon as January.
After his release, Gajdys was ordered to five years of strict probation and 1,000 hours of community service. The Evans family asked that he tell his story to others.
“I know that if Matt can go ahead and speak to teenagers and college students and vets, maybe their lives can be different, too,” said the victim’s mother Kimberly Evans.
“Maintaining the compassion and forgiveness hasn’t been easy, not in regards to Matt in general but just because of the situation,” said Jim Evans, the victim’s brother.
The judge who sentenced Matthew Gajdys said he had never seen a victim’s family show so much compassion. That influenced the sentence he gave. The judge said it’s very rare for a defendant in a homicide by motor vehicle case to only receive time in county jail.