DUI Destroying Lives - Part One

By: Amy Bingham
By: Amy Bingham

When a DUI crash results in a fatality, the offender can be charged with murder. Most people don't realize that a vehicle being driven by an impaired driver is considered a dangerous weapon and can be viewed the same as pointing a gun at someone's head.

On May 14, 1988, Larry Mahoney crashed his pick up into a school bus carrying Kentucky kids home from a church field trip. Twenty-seven people were killed making it the most disastrous bus accident in U.S. history.

The wreck brought to the forefront everything drunk driving advocates were trying to prevent. No longer was it acceptable to drink and drive.

Mahoney was a repeat offender and was convicted of 27 counts of second degree manslaughter. After serving nearly 11 years, he walked out of prison a free man. Warren County Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron believes if the Carrollton wreck had happened here the grand jury would have gone for a harsher charge.

Two people in our viewing area have been charged with murder stemming from impaired driving crashes. Gary Pentecost of Christian County is accused of killing Jimmy and Shaleen Johnson while they were on a motorcycle in November 2005. And Mickey Mosher of Indiana is charged with killing Brooks Mitchell and Cornelius Martin who were riding their motorcycles in Logan County in June 2006.

While 49 people have been killed in alcohol related crashes in Warren County since 2000, so far no one has been charged with murder. That could easily change, but often times a lesser charge is returned by a grand jury because a close relationship existed between the victim and the drunk driver.

When a drunk driving fatality occurs, it is treated like any other murder scene. The prosecutor is called along with detectives and accident reconstructionists. Facts of the case are later presented to a grand jury who makes the ultimate decision on what charges to bring.

For information on Kentucky's DUI laws check out http://www.1800duilaws.com/states/ky.asp.

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