‘I don’t think he was admitting his guilt today’ – OKC cardiologist formally sentenced to 17 years incarceration after fatal DUI crash

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City cardiologist accused of killing a man in a DUI crash was formally sentenced to 17 years of incarceration on Thursday.

Dr. Bryan Perry was sentenced to 15 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter, one year in county jail for aggravated DUI and one year in prison for leaving the scene of an accident. He was also found guilty of obstruction of justice. His accumulated fines amount to $21,500.

The conviction comes after the night in October 2018 when he got behind the wheel of his Mercedes after drinking more than a dozen cocktails. On I-35, he drove up behind and then ran down Nicholas Rappa, who was on a motorcycle.

“He knew that he was an alcoholic. He had been reminded of that time and time again,” said Assistant District Attorney Catt Burton.

Thursday’s sentencing was the first time Burton was allowed to bring up Perry’s several previous DUIs or drunk in public arrests that span back to 1992.

“He was a lucky man,” she said. “And all I can say is that he got too arrogant about drinking and driving.”

Finally, she said in court, he committed the ultimate crime, cutting Rappa out of his family’s lives. Rappa, a cardiovascular perfusionist, left behind a now four-year-old daughter. Rappa’s father, Joseph Rappa, delivered his victim impact statement to the court from New York via teleconference. The mother of Rappa’s daughter, Sarah Bridwell, spoke on the child’s behalf in court.

“Nothing will ever bring Nick back, but knowing that someone is being held accountable and that he can’t hurt anyone else feels as good as it can,” Bridwell said.

She said she was relieved that the information regarding Perry’s previous arrests were finally allowed into proceedings.

“I think he knows better,” Bridwell said. “And everyone in his life has enabled him, and tried to get him out of things, and this is the first time that it hasn’t happened.”

Two of Perry’s friends did advocate for him in the courtroom on Thursday. One was his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. Both men testified that they believed he was sincere in his remorse, as well as his 16-months of sobriety.

Even Perry made a tearful plea to the judge, asking that he be allowed to be with his two sons, and spend his life sharing his experience with alcoholism outside of prison.

But neither Rappa’s family nor the ADA were moved by his words.

“I don’t think he was admitting his guilt today,” said Burton, questioning whether he’s accepted responsibility for his actions.

The judge stuck with the jury’s recommendation.

Perry’s attorney, Scott Adams, has promised to appeal. He said he believes the evidence shows he should not have been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, the lesser charge that was introduced on the last day of the trial alongside Perry’s original charge, second-degree murder.

“There’s substantial chance it’ll be reversed,” Adams said. “He’s not guilty of Man 1, and I think that the appellate court, if they look at what all happened in this case, I’m sure that they’ll agree.”

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