car accidents, Cell Phones, clyde and carmie newton, deadly texting driver, distracted drivers, Facebook, highway safety, judge jim t. hamilton, lawrence county, misti risner, Tennessee, texting behind the wheel, texting related accident, texting while driving, texting while driving laws
Diatribe: Deadly Texting Driver Receives Only Probation.
Texting while driving is a very serious problem on highways all around the world. With more and more frequency, laws are being created and courts are making rulings that impact drivers who are distracted by smartphones and other electronic devices in an effort to keep us safe from one another. I, personally, cannot text and drive … particularly during my commute to and from the office, where there is a portion of my journey during which I receive no cellular service … because I don’t wear my reading glasses when I drive. I will confess to picking up my glasses and my iPhone when I’m stopped at a red light every once in a while but as a matter of practice I never text while my car is in motion because I simply can’t. I consider myself fortunate that I can easily avoid the distraction.
On March 17, 2013, Misti Risner of Lawrence County, Tennessee, was driving an SUV eastbound on Highway 64 at about 5:30 p.m. when she failed to stop and ran into the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle pushing it into the westbound lane where it collided, head-on, with another vehicle. Two people, Clyde and Carmie Newton, on the motorcycle were killed and two others in the westbound car were injured. Authorities reported that the time stamp on Risner’s cell phone showed that she had posted a message to Facebook while driving, only minutes prior to impact, and that there was a partial message that she had been in the process of typing.
A Grand July indicted her in July of last year on two counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of vehicular homicide. She chose to enter guilty pleas for one count of reckless endangerment and two counts of criminally negligent homicide … lesser charges.
On Monday, August, 25, 2014, when her case came before a judge, her defense team requested that Judge Jim T. Hamilton grant Risner “Judicial Diversion” mean that she remain on probation throughout her sentence. The prosecution, representing the family of the deceased couple who were also in attendance in the courtroom, requested that the maximum sentence be considered while indicating that their main request was that probation not be granted.
On Tuesday, Misti Risner was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment and sentenced to only four years of probation. Incredibly, Judge Hamilton indicated that, if Risner stays out of trouble during that time the charges will be wiped from her record!
Apparently, the judge chose to treat the death of Newtons like any other traffic accident when, in my opinion, it wasn’t an accident at all … Ms. Risner didn’t accidentally use her cell phone to post on Facebook. But when she did, the death of two people was the result. Texting while driving in Tennessee is against the law. Killing people while texting while driving should be REALLY SUPER against the law. The message that this judge has sent to the community is WRONG. The family left behind by the victims is devastated and they are on a mission to stop others from texting and driving. We all should be.
There are people in the United States prison system serving life sentences for shoplifting and selling marijuana yet Misti Risner will serve only four years probation and have a clean record after being found responsible for the death of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde and Carmie Newton.
Are you outraged by Misti Risner’s sentence? Or do you think the judge was right … it was just another traffic accident?
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