A 21-year-old Indiana man who killed two friends in a drunk driving accident, then recorded a professionally-produced apology video, says he didn't do it to protect himself and didn't intend for the video to be published on YouTube.
Dean Tillema killed two of his friends in the early morning of May 22 on a country road in Demotte, IN. Tillema knew the road, but he had been drinking and blew through a stop sign and slammed into a tree.
Killed in the crash were 18-year-old Eric Sims and 16-year-old Taylor Cavinder. Tillema survived, but was hospitalized for weeks with leg and arm injuries. Soon after he was released from the hospital, he hired attorney Bryan Truitt and told him he wanted to make a P.S.A., warning others about the tragedies and consequences of drinking and driving.
But in doing so, Tillema has drawn the ire of both the deceased's parents and the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"I am assuming (he's) doing this because they want to go to court and say, 'Your Honor, it's true that I did this, that I injured these people, I killed this person,'" says David Melham, a M.A.D.D. grief counselor. "But I have to tell you, I work for M.A.D.D.," Melham said, questioning the timing of the video.
Not so, says Tillema's attorney, Bryan Truitt.
"He has incredible remorse and wanted to hopefully save at least one, or numerous lives, by reaching out by having people listen to his message," says Truitt, who helped Tillema produce the video.
Truitt says the video was intended for DVD release only, and was to be distributed to advocate groups and high schools. But the video made its way on to YouTube and now some critics question its timing, coming just weeks before Tilemma's sentencing.
Truitt says essentially his client is admitting guilt on the video and has talked with the police. Truitt says the video was only posted in order to garner comments, to see if changes need to me made. He says he has not been asked by the victim's families to take it down, but plans to do it voluntarily.
Tilemma, who had a blood alcohol level twice over the legal limit, faces up to 40 years in prison when he appears in court next on Sept. 15.