Drunken driver convicted in Sealy's death sentenced to eight years

MINNEAPOLIS -- The drunken driver convicted in the 2000 death of Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Malik Sealy was sentenced Thursday to another eight years in prison on a separate drunken driving charge and a probation violation.

Souksangouane Phengsene of Minneapolis was charged with first-degree driving while impaired. He surprised prosecutors by pleading guilty at a hearing that was just supposed to be an arraignment, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

Phengsene admitted he had been drinking beer before police pulled him over on March 30. Prosecutors say his blood alcohol level was 0.20 percent. That's two and half times the legal limit.

Hennepin County Judge Steven Pihlaja sentenced Phengsene to 54 months in prison for driving while impaired, and another 42 months for violating the terms of his probation on a previous conviction. The sentences will run consecutively, for a total of eight years.

"This is an amazing message, not only to the public but I think it's a real good message to the rest of the judicial system," said Diane Homa, a victim advocate with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Freeman said that as far as his staff and MADD were able to determine, Phengsene got the longest sentence for a straight drunken driving case in Minnesota history.

"And it's well deserved," he added. "This man seems to be unable to understand you can't drink and drive."