Life In Prison for DUI Offender

DRUNKEN DRIVER IS NOT GIVEN THE DEATH PENALTY IN FIRST DEGREE MURDER
CONVICTION


MAY 8, 1997, WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA:

A jury has spared the life of Thomas Richard Jones on Tuesday in the
landmark First Degree Murder Conviction for Dunk & Drugged driving
crash that took the life of two 19 year old students and injured four
others. He was given life in prison without the possibility of
parole.

The jury of six men and six women took one hour to decide whether this
would also be the first death penalty case for a drunk driving fatal
crash. They decided that there was not sufficient reason to kill him, and
the families of the victims said that they didn’t want the death penalty
as well. They wanted him to suffer in prison.

2nd degree Murder convictions have been common in America for anyone
with a prior conviction for drink driving, but since Jones had two priors
and is yet to be tried on a third, the D.A. argued that he had sufficient
intent to form culpable negligence for a 1st degree conviction. Jones was
not only under the influence of alcohol, but had a tranqualizer and
painkiller in his system at the same time. Just before he killed Maia
Witzl of Arlington, Texas, and Julie Hansen, of Rockville, Maryland, he
bumped another car, hit a curb and nearly flipped over. He then almost
hit another car head on, but swerved and hit the car carrying the two
students.


NUMSKULL TIPPLERS who still may not have gotten the message about
drinking and driving should look to the South to understand the depth of
society’s infuriation with heedless inebriated motorists.

Thomas Richard Jones, 40, who had two prior convictions and a third
charge pending for driving while impaired, was found guilty of murder and
sentenced to life in prison in what is believed to be the first such
conviction and sentence regarding a drunk driving case.

Two 19-year-old women were killed when Jones’ car struck theirs on a
Winston- Salem, North Carolina street. Jones was not legally drunk but
admitted drinking two quarts of beer and taking painkillers before the
crash. The painkiller bottle clearly stated that the patient should not
drink or drive while taking the pills.

While prosecutors went too far in seeking the death penalty, Jones’
incomprehensibe irresponsibility resulted in the deaths of two innocent
women.

There is no excuse for drinking and driving, and Jones’ harsh sentence
should deliver that message.

DUI Attorneys


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