Odd Sentence for Killer Drunk Driver Is Suspended

By Fionna Agomuoh 04/30/12

Having to hold a sign in public is certainly unusual. But is it also cruel?

Michael Giancona has so far endured only one
Saturday like this.
Photo via

A drunk driver who caused a head-on collision in Houston, Texas, taking the life of 20-year-old Aaron Pennywell, has been temporarily relieved of his unusual and very public punishment—for his own safety. The culprit, 39-year-old Michael Giacona, was charged with a DWI and eventually sentenced to 90 days in prison, as well as four Saturdays of standing at the crash site, while holding a sign reading "I killed Aaron Pennywell." Pennywell's family and other local residents felt Giacona's sentence was too light; they've been vocal about their disapproval, and complained that Giacona "disguised" himself by wearing a hat and shades during his first sign-holding stint. But Giacona was predictably harassed by passers-by, causing the suspension of the unusual punishment. "There were some kids that came that walked up to him and cussed him out. We have no idea who it was," says Kae Pennywell, the victim's mother. "The judge put him out there for public humiliation. He should have expected some of that. But nobody threatened his life." The Pennywell family began demonstrating at the crash site during the holidays, posting signs that will stay up until Aaron's birthday and gathering at the site to protest Giacona's break from punishment. "It is just disheartening that he's just going to get a slap on the hand again and walk away," says Lisa Dentler, a family friend. The court will make a final decision about Giacona's sentence on Wednesday.

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Fionna Agomuoh is a tech writer and product reviewer, as well as the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TechieSupreme.com. Fionna previously worked at several media companies, including Newsweek Media Group and Business Insider. Find her on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.