Driver's sentence in crash upsets victim's widow

42-year-old victim was a bus driver for Head Start program.
MCT Regional News
Jan 13, 2014

The widow of a man killed in a crash on Refugee Road more than two years ago wanted the maximum prison sentence of 18 months for the driver whose negligence caused her husband’s death.

Shurl Hairston wasn’t satisfied with the one-year sentence or the defendant’s apology Friday in a Franklin County courtroom.

“I don’t feel it was earnest,” she said of Alonzo Motley Jr.’s tearful statement to the victim’s family.

If Motley were truly remorseful, he would have accepted responsibility for the crash rather than going to trial, she said.

Common Pleas Judge David E. Cain convicted Motley, 42, of vehicular homicide in November but acquitted him of the more-serious charge of aggravated vehicular homicide.

The judge found that Motley was negligent, not reckless, when he drove his car left of center, across multiple lanes of traffic, and crashed into Donald Hairston’s car on Oct. 21, 2011. The 42-year-old victim was a bus driver for the Head Start program.

The conviction would have been a misdemeanor, but Motley was driving with a suspended license, elevating the crime to a fourth-degree felony.

Although Motley was permitted to drive for work or to visit his children, evidence showed that he was on his way to dine with a friend at the time of the crash.

Mrs. Hairston wept in court as she told Motley that his “selfish decision to go out for a bite to eat” cost her husband his life.

Motley paused several times to compose himself during his statement.

“I’ve always tried to keep the laws of the land and the laws of God,” he said. “In both cases, I’ve come up short.”

The judge called Motley’s driving record “horrible.” The fatal crash, he said, was “a result of Mr. Motley not changing his driving habits.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Cain suspended Motley’s driver’s license for the maximum five years and ordered him to pay restitution of $1,743 — the balance on the victim’s funeral costs.

Mrs. Hairston had urged Cain to impose the maximum sentence. Afterward, she said the one-year sentence “wasn’t completely fair.”

“I hope, from today forward, (Motley) can learn from his actions,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate that my husband had to pay for his actions.”

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John Futty - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

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