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Press Release

Wapato Man Sentenced to 96 Months in Prison for Manslaughter and Aggravated Assault Wapato Man Sentenced to 96 Months in Prison for Manslaughter and Aggravated Assault

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Yakima, Washington –  Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Brandon Kelly Root, age 47, of Toppenish, Washington was sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of Involuntary Manslaughter and two counts of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.  United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

According to Court documents, on June 11, 2017, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Root was driving on the Yakama Nation in the Eastern District of Washington. At the time, he was under the influence of alcohol and crossed the center line of the roadway. Root’s vehicle struck another car head on. Four individuals were in the other vehicle. Two were killed and the others, one of whom was a minor child, suffered serious bodily injury.

When officers arrived at the scene of the collision, they found Root wedged in the driver’s seat of his car. Officers noted that Root had bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, and an odor of intoxicants coming from his person. Root was the only occupant of his vehicle, and an 18-pack of beer was located on the front passenger floorboard. A blood draw, which was conducted at the hospital about four hours after the collision, showed Root’s blood alcohol level as .10 at that time, which is over the legal limit. In an interview with law enforcement, Root admitted to drinking that day at a softball tournament and a bar. Root also claimed that he did not recall the details of the crash. 

“As a result of Mr. Root’s dangerous actions, two individuals were killed and countless others will never be the same,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones. No sentence will heal the pain caused by Mr. Root’s reckless act of driving while intoxicated. Our communities deserve better, and that is why my office will continue to hold those who engage in criminally reckless actions accountable.” 

“This tragedy would have never happened had Mr. Root acted responsibly,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle field office. “Instead, his decision to drive while intoxicated caused two people to lose their lives, others to suffer serious injuries, and families and loved ones to face agonizing loss from a preventable collision. We know this sentence will keep our communities safer and dissuade future drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Yakama Nation Police Department and the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Michael Murphy, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.



Richard Barker 
First Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-353-2767 or

Updated July 12, 2023

Violent Crime