DUI driver sentenced to 90 days in deadly Murfreesboro crash - WSMV Channel 4

DUI driver sentenced to 90 days in deadly Murfreesboro crash

Posted: Updated: May 22, 2014 10:16 PM

A Brentwood man will only have to spend three months in jail for hitting and killing a taxi driver in a DUI crash, and prosecutors said this plea agreement was the best they could do.

The attorney for 27-year-old Evan Childress said even though the state couldn't use the evidence of his blood alcohol level the night of that fatal crash against him in court, he didn't want to take any chances taking this case to trial.

"There is always a risk. There is a risk in every case. The blood wasn't the only evidence the state probably would have been used against him," said attorney Tommy Santel.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McNeely v. Missouri that forced blood draws from suspected drunk drivers, like Childress, could not be taken without consent.

The high court ruling made evidence from warrantless blood draw inadmissible in court.

"We were put in an impossible situation," said Assistant District Attorney Nathan Nichols.

Prosecutors were skeptical about their chances of winning in court.

"As a prosecutor, I had to weigh the risk of having a trial and losing the trial, and Mr. Childress getting away with no punishment or us working out some kind of agreement that got justice for Mr. Powell and his family," Nichols said.

Childress pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and will only spend 90 days in jail. He will then be on probation for 12 years for the death of taxi cab driver Geoffriau Powell after he crashed off Medical Center Parkway in Murfreesboro back in 2012.

Childress was charged with his third DUI that tragic night. His blood alcohol level from the "forced blood draw" was higher than the legal limit of .08.

"It's a very unfortunate incident, and we recognized that," Santel said. "It's very tragic, however, given the state of the law with the state not being able to use the evidence that was intended to use against him, it was a successful outcome for Mr. Childress."

"We don't generally settle in this manner, but this was an extraordinary situation where we lost all of our evidence with the Supreme Court ruling," Nichols said.

If Childress violates the terms of his probation, he could be sent to prison for 12 years.

The victim's brother, George Powell, said he signed off on the plea deal.

"As far as the 90 days are concerned, we really wanted to see something more extensive in order to have justice brought into this situation," he said.

George Powell said he hopes Childress has learned his lesson.

"The initial impact was anger and frustration. Now, we hope that somehow this individual won't fail to recognize this is an opportunity to make a great change in his life," Powell said.

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