Irony of ironies.
The car Jeremy B. Williams was driving the night Greg Hawthorne, 19, and Shanna Boyt Overton, 18, were killed had two bumper stickers. One said, "I swerve to hit people at random." The other, "If you don't like the way I drive, get off the sidewalk."But Williams, 20, had those stickers on his car because he thought they were funny, not because he intended to hit anyone, said his grandmother, Hazel Williams, at her grandson's sentencing Wednesday.
After hearing numerous individuals speak for and against Jeremy Williams, 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder sentenced him to a maximum one-to-15 prison term. But the judge stayed the sentence in lieu of five years of probation and substantial community service.
Hilder ordered Williams, who suffered brain damage as a result of the accident, to home confinement and to wear an electronic monitoring device for the first year of his probation. Williams must also serve 12 hours of community service every week of his probation.
The judge said he was reluctant to impose jail time and chose the more lenient sentence because sending Williams to prison would have been like "locking up a child with no memory," he said.
Williams, who says he does not remember anything about the accident, remained in a coma for some time after the June 27, 1997, crash. According to police, Williams was driving between 80 and 90 miles per hour on I-215 when he suddenly swerved from the inside lane to the outside lane and hit two vehicles parked in the emergency lane.
Hawthorne, who was trying to fix one of the stopped vehicles, and friend Overton were struck and killed. Greg Ulibarri, 20, was seriously injured and is still suffering from the consequences of the accident, he said Wednesday.
Williams, who had no prior criminal or traffic record, was charged with two counts of manslaughter, but prosecutors dropped one count after he pleaded guilty to one count of the second-degree felony.
Hawthorne's parents, Marilee and Raymond Hawthorne, asked Hilder to impose the maximum prison sentence on Williams.
"Greg (Hawthorne) was my only child. I will never see grandchildren," Marilee Hawthorne said.
But Overton's mother, Anette Overton, said she felt the judge had done the best he could under the circumstances.
"I think (the sentence) was more than we could have asked for," she said after the hearing.
"It could be a lot harsher, but he's not going to have a life for five years. He'll be like a dog locked up in a cage," said Mandy Williford, who was Greg Hawthorne's girl-friend and was at the scene of the accident.