Kiln man gets 20 years for DUI death
By Dwayne Bremer
Feb 18, 2014, 18:21
A Kiln man on Tuesday pled guilty to a DUI-related crash which took the life of 17-year-old William "T Mac" Arthur in July 2010.
Circuit Court Judge John Gargiulo accepted the plea of Jody Jarrell, 42, and subsequently sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said Tuesday that Arthur was a passenger in Jarrell's 1998 Ford Ranger on July 30, 2010, when Jarrell lost control of the vehicle and it left the roadway and hit a tree on Highway 603 near Firetower Road.
Arthur, who was set to be a senior at Hancock High School when the school year began in August, was killed instantly, Daniel said.
Investigators obtained a sample of blood from Jarrell after the crash which showed that his alcohol level was .21 percent, nearly three times the legal limit, Daniel said.
Jarrell testified that he had been at a local bar drinking beer prior to the accident.
Daniel said that Jarrell had picked up Arthur to take him to look at an ATV which he was interested in buying a few miles down the road.
Jarrell was a friend of Arthur's family and he was trying to be a "pal" on the day of the accident, Jarrell's attorney Donald Rafferty said.
"In his mindset, he was trying to be a pal, but it turned out tragic," Rafferty said. "Every day since it happened, he has regretted it. He is truly sorry."
During a brief statement, Jarrell apologized to Arthur's family members.
Several dozen relatives of both Jarrell and Arthur filled the courtroom Tuesday. Many of Arthur's family wore t-shirts saying "Remember William."
Kay Durbin, Arthur's grandmother, said the family is still suffering from William's loss.
"I am trying to forgive him, but my daughter and the family is still suffering," Durbin said. "I am glad he has taken responsibility."
The maximum sentence for a DUI causing death is 25 years. Daniel said the state recommended 25 years, with five years suspended, leaving 20 to serve. Daniel said the family had been consulted about the sentence recommendation and was in agreement. Gargiulo followed the sentence and added that Jarrell must complete the state's long-term drug and alcohol program while in jail.
Upon release, Jarell will be required to serve five years' probation, Gargiulo said.
Family members said Arthur was a "fun-loving" kid who was "outgoing and popular."
"I'm happy to see justice was done," Arthur's cousin Kodie Bounds said. "He was wrong for drinking and driving and it took T. Mac away from all of us."
District Attorney Joel Smith said Tuesday that the case could have been avoided.
"This was a tragedy," Smith said. "Poor decisions on the part of the defendant resulted in the unnecessary death of this young man's life which had just begun."