Updated Thu, Mar 29, 2012 3:03 pm
A West Virginia man was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday morning for a fatal crash that killed a 14-year-old girl.
Dustin N. Jones, 21, of Mineral Wells, W.Va., pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony aggravated vehicular homicide charge on Feb. 13 and was sentenced to four years of a possible five-year sentence by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer. Jones was also sentenced to three years of post-release control and will have a 15-year driver's license suspension upon release.
On October 30, 2011, Jones was traveling back from the Athens Halloween block party with Madison P. Fitchett, 14, of Parkersburg when a State Highway Patrol officer attempted to pull the vehicle over for a headlight violation. Jones fled and crashed into a tree on Gantsville Road. Fitchett was pinned in the vehicle and up against a tree. She was transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Initial reports after the accident suggested that alcohol could have been a contributing factor to the crash. Washington County prosecutor Jim Schneider said that blood work later determined that alcohol did not cause the accident.
"It sort of made it more senseless. Why was he trying to get away?" asked Schneider.
He said Jones had no prior criminal record as an adult. For this reason, his attorney, Assistant Washington County Public Defender Shawna Landaker, asked for leniency with Jones' sentencing.
The Washington County Prosecutor's Office dropped a second third-degree felony offense, failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer. Schneider said he decide to drop the charge to avoid going to trial. He said it was likely that the two sentences would have been served concurrently.
Schneider said the Fitchett family is displeased with the length of Jones' sentence.
"They're in a lot of grief," Schneider said.