An Illinois man, Cecil Conner, was found guilty of the drunk driving death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son.
The conviction came after Conner’s defense team attempted to shift some of the blame for the child’s death to a police officer. The jury decided, after hours of deliberation in the Will County courtroom, that Conner alone was responsible for the tragic outcome of the May 10 DUI crash.
Conner crashed into a tree, drove through a fence, and hit another tree in the accident that killed young Michael Langford, Jr., before being charged with drunk driving, according to an article in the Herald-News.
Part of Conner’s unsuccessful DUI defense was the claim that police had some part to play in his drunk driving and subsequent accident. He argued that police arrested his girlfriend, his designated driver, on a suspended license during a previous traffic stop, then ordered him to drive home. Conner claimed that they threatened to arrest him if he didn’t drive away.
Conner was drunk, and family members have criticized law enforcement for, according to their story, ignoring the fact that he was an impaired driver when they ordered him to drive home.
The prosecution in the case successfully argued that Conner alone was responsible for the decision to drive drunk and endanger the child.
Per Illinois DUI law, Conner could face up to 14 years behind bars. He’ll be sentenced in May.
Conner admitted to being drunk following a house party. His girlfriend, Kathie LaFond, was driving, but was arrested on the way home. Conner took the wheel, and police said that neither Conner nor LaFond informed the police that he had been drinking that night. Prosecution were also skeptical that police ordered Conner to drive home.
Conner, however, continued to drive drunk, even after he called a friend for help. The friend told him to stop the car, but Conner drove on, reaching 66 miles per hour at points, before he drove over several lawns, through trees, catapulting his car to the point that it uprooted a tree.
Young Langford did not survive the poor decision.
The jury deliberated for nine hours before reaching its guilty verdict on two aggravated drunk driving charges.
Mitchell Green, of Kern County, California, near Bakersfield, served in the army for six years in Bosnia and Afghanistan, and he was a firefighter on the local force. He didn’t have a criminal record to speak of, and his friends called him a model citizen.
Before the night of February 2, 2010 , that is. On that night, Green drove drunk, and he got into a car accident. He collided with a vehicle carrying Michelle Maxwell and her teenage daughter. Michelle Maxwell died, and Mitchell Green now faces nine years in prison for charges related to California DUI, according to the Bakersfield Californian.
Her husband, Jerry Maxwell, acknowledged that, no matter what the sentence was, their lives were forever changed by Green’s decision. Judge Charles H. Brehmer noted during the sentencing that Green didn’t mean to hurt anyone, much less cause their death.
Maxwell’s mother, Marceline Seberger, spoke in court about the loss that she had suffered, emphasizing that there was no way that Green could know the way that they felt. She did believe that Green was remorseful, however, following the trial, saying that she could see the emotion in Green’s eyes. The last thing she said to Green was, “May you make peace with God before you see him face to face.”
Maxwell’s daughters told the Californian that they forgave Green for his actions the night his DUI caused their mother’s death. But they acknowledged the continued pain they would face. “She will never be able to spoil my children or even meet them,” said Michaela Maxwell, who was in the car the night of the crash.
Jerry Maxwell felt less kindness in the hours following the crash. Green was in a hospital bed near his family, according to the Californian, and he acknowledged a desire to hurt Green after learning that his wife had died. But his wife’s memory stayed his hand. “I heard my wife’s voice saying, ‘It’s not worth it,’” he told the paper.
Green had plead no contest to the felony gross vehicular manslaughter charge in December. His pickup truck collided with the Hyundai Sonata occupied by the Maxwells. Green had run a red light, and he didn’t brake even as he hit the smaller car.
His blood alcohol content registered at .13, over the .08 legal limit across the country.
Two figures in the baseball world faced DUI arrests recently, adding their names to the long list of prominent athletes to face scrutiny about their drinking and driving.
Delino DeShields Jr. is a youngster on the verge of his pro career, while Ozzie Canseco is the twin brother of major league star and steroid poster boy Jose Canseco, who only played a few games at the highest level.
DeShields, an infielder in the Houston Astros organization who is not even old enough to drink alcohol legally, was stopped on suspicion of drunk driving while headed the wrong way on a one-way street in Georgia.
DeShields Jr., the son of former major league baseball player Delino DeShields, admitted to having consumed some alcohol at a University of Georgia fraternity party, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The police suspected that he had drunk more than he admitted to, and in fact he registered a .076 blood alcohol content at the scene of the police stop. The legal limit for those under the age of 21 is .02 percent. DeShields recently turned 18.
Also in DeShields’ SUV were four open bottles of alcohol. With that, he logged three charges related to the stop: underage possession of alcohol, DUI and the driving violation for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
DeShields took responsibility for the incident via a statement on his Facebook page, which stated “I take the responsibility of being a role model seriously and apologize to my fans, my community and the Astros organization, who continue to support my family and I during this unfortunate incident. I look forward to putting this matter behind me.”
The DUI charge and hearing will not impact DeShields’ trip to spring training in February, the first of his young career after being selected by the Astros in the first round of the 2010 draft.
Ozzie Canseco, who is in a far different stage of his career, faces DUI concerns of his own, after being pulled over at 2 in the morning in Hillsborough, Florida, according to ABC News.
The twin brother of slugger and steroid user Jose Canseco registered a .108 and .109 blood alcohol content when tested. He is currently the baseball director at a local sporting goods center in Florida.
He had a long career in the minor leagues and the independent leagues, starting in 1983 and continuing into the early 2000s.
Ozzie has been charged with DUI. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to possession of anabolic steroids after a traffic stop.