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Prison for student who killed pastor in drunk driving accident

In 2011, an intoxicated 20-year-old University of South Carolina student drove up onto a sidewalk, hitting two cars and killing a pastor. The drunk driving accident occurred at Whaley and Assembly Street where the student ran a red light at the intersection. Witnesses stated that the student's Ford Escape continued on the sidewalk for roughly half a block before impact. The 71-year-old Midlands pastor, who occupied the second vehicle that was hit, was pronounced dead at the site of the accident.

The drunk driving charges were heard by a Columbia judge nearly two years after the fatal accident occurred. Although the student could have been sentenced for 25 years, the judge imposed a prison sentence of 15 years and a $10,100 fine following the student's guilty plea to the DUI charge. Her sentence was suspended to one year with a five-year probation.

A spokesperson for the pastor's survivors emphasized the family was not "holding any type of hatred or bitterness" toward the student in regards to the accident. The student maintained a 3.6 grade point average in criminal justice at the University of South Carolina.

DUI charges could be reduced or even dismissed if a criminal defense attorney is able to show improper police procedures or erroneous Breathalyzer results. In the case of a conviction in South Carolina, an attorney may be able to present mitigating factors during trial proceedings or sentencing to obtain credit for good conduct that may reduce the overall time a person is to serve in jail or prison. Additionally, an attorney be able to negotiate for lesser penalties in exchange for a guilty plea.

Source: WISTV 10, "USC student charged in pastor's death pleads guilty to DUI, gets year in prison," Jeremy Turnage, Feb. 22, 2013

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