WINDER, Ga. - A woman who allowed her teenage children to hold a 2007 after-prom party where an 18-year-old died has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, fined $4,000 and put on four years' probation.
While the sentencing concludes the criminal case against 41-year-old Barbara Ann Michael, it opens the door for Leland Martin's parents to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit they have filed against Ms. Michael and her stepson.
Ms. Michael pleaded guilty last week to eight misdemeanor charges: two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, four counts of contributing to the deprivation of a minor and two counts of keeping a disorderly house. None of the charges were directly related to Mr. Martin's death.
"Because he was 18, she could not have been charged with an offense against him," said Patricia Brooks, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case. "So all of the contributing to a delinquency of a minor and contributing to deprivation counts were for other kids who were there who were 17 and 16."
Mr. Martin was found dead April 29, 2007, the morning after he and 20 to 40 people attended the after-prom party at a house near Auburn.
Ms. Michael was not home at the time and did not procure alcohol for the party, Ms. Brooks said. However, she turned a blind eye to the fact that teenagers were drinking at her house at a party in November 2006 and at the after-prom party.
Her stepson A.J. Perry still faces a reckless conduct charge. He was 19 at the time.
Mr. Martin's parents - Kimberly and Leland Martin Sr. - claim that both Ms. Michael and Mr. Perry bear responsibility for their son's death because both were adults in charge of the home and allowed the teenagers to drink there, according to the wrongful death suit they filed in Barrow County Superior Court.
Mr. Martin drank "a significant amount of Everclear," or high-proof grain alcohol, at the party, according to deputies with the Barrow County Sheriff's Office.
According to friends and classmates, he wasn't a regular drinker, had never been to a party at the Michael home and didn't know the people at the party well.
During the party, he and others videotaped themselves, and he fought with at least two people. While he was injured in a fight, an autopsy showed that the injuries did not contribute to his death, according to the sheriff's office. He suffocated while passed out on a large ottoman as the party continued around him, the sheriff's office said last spring.
Mr. Perry's attorney will argue at an Aug. 27 hearing that authorities should dismiss the charge, Ms. Brooks said.
His attorney also has filed a motion to dismiss the Martins' lawsuit against him, refuting their claims that he should have prevented Mr. Martin from drinking and should have known that he needed medical help.
The Martins sued Ms. Michael and Mr. Perry in April, but Judge Joseph Booth halted the civil action until the criminal cases ended. They are seeking unspecified damages and court costs.