Distracted driver pleads guilty of lesser charges - WSMV News 4

Distracted driver pleads guilty of lesser charges

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The crash scene from June 2013 after Misti Risner hit and killed the driver and passenger of a motorcycle in Lawrenceburg. The crash scene from June 2013 after Misti Risner hit and killed the driver and passenger of a motorcycle in Lawrenceburg.
LAWRENCEBURG, TN (WSMV) -

A woman accused of killing two people has pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Prosecutors said the woman was texting while driving. They said their case was compromised by a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Police said the ruling ties their hands. Essentially, cops cannot confiscate information from a cell phone without a warrant.

In this case, minutes after the crash, police saw 37-year-old Misti Risner's cell phone lying on the ground opened to Facebook messenger with an unfinished message. They said she was texting while driving, evidence that could have brought a stiff sentence.

Prosecutors said the Supreme Court ruling meant they could not introduce that evidence because a warrant was not obtained beforehand.

Clyde Ray Newton, 66, and wife Willodean, 62, were stopped on their motorcycle near David Crockett State Park in March 2013.

Investigators said Risner slammed the rear of the motorcycle.

Officers on the scene said a time stamp on Risner's cell phone showed she had posted a message to Facebook only a few minutes prior.

The Newton family still feels the sting on that day.

"Heartache, just every emotion you can think of comes to you. You go through stages," said one of the couple's sons.

"Why was that text message so important that she couldn't look up long enough?" asked one of the couple's daughters.

"She never looked up. She never hit her brakes," said one of the couple's daughters.

"According to the records, she never hit her brakes until after impact," said one of the couple's sons.

"The Supreme Court ruling will not only affect our case but will affect many other cases and previous cases," said one of the couple's daughters.

District Attorney Mike Bottoms of the 22nd Judicial District said a consent to look at the phone was obtained after the fact.

Risner was airlifted to Nashville, and her husband went to be by her side.

"They sent an officer up there to get a signed consent. They did get a signed consent, but it was about an hour and a half after they had ultimately looked at the phone," said Bottoms.

Risner entered pleas to two counts of criminally negligent homicide, a lesser charge than what Bottoms was seeking. She will be sentenced in late August.

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