Man gets 2 months in teacher's death

An Evans man who struck and killed a kindergarten teacher walking along a Columbia County road in 2008 was sentenced to jail Monday.

Brandon Len Wise, 27, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide due to excessive tint and driving a vehicle with excessive tint, both misdemeanors.

Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Wise to two months in the Columbia County Detention Center, followed by 10 months on probation and a $700 fine as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the district attorney's office.

"My heart goes out to everyone involved," Overstreet said at the sentencing hearing in the Evans courthouse.

Wise initially was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and traveling too fast for conditions in the death of 24-year-old Christian Giles.

Giles was walking on the edge of Mullikin Road with her husband and dogs about 9 p.m. July 16, 2008, when the Ford Expedition driven by Wise struck her.

"I'm just deeply sorry for everything that has occurred," Wise said at the hearing. "If I could take it all back, I would. If I could trade places with Christian, I would; no doubt about it."

The investigation into the incident showed that Giles was walking with her back to traffic at twilight.

"Our prayers have been and continue to be with the family of Christian Giles," Wise's mother, Ginny Wise, said. "Our lives will be forever changed."

Wise was driving his girlfriend's vehicle, which had dark tint at the top of the windshield for glare and a lighter tint on the rest of the windshield. The vehicle was still registered in Florida, where his girlfriend had moved from a few months earlier.

In Georgia, no tint is allowed on the windshield except for the top 6 inches.

Wise was not speeding through the 30 mph zone, and was not impaired or using his cell phone at the time of the wreck, Assistant District Attorney Adam King said.

The wreck occurred at dusk, when he couldn't see past the light of the headlights and would need about three seconds to react to any obstacle within the vehicle's lighted path, said Wise's attorney, Victor Hawk.

"He didn't have time to recognize and react to anyone who came into his path," Hawk said.

The victim's family was not completely supportive of the plea agreement.

Giles' husband, Auburn, and her mother, Debbie Daniel, were among several family members and friends who spoke at the hearing.

"There's no reason why he couldn't see her," Daniel said. "This is a parent's worst nightmare, and the impact is shattering."

Wise has been cited for traffic offenses since he started driving and since the wreck that killed Giles.

At 16, he was caught driving too fast for conditions on the same road. Nearly four years before Giles' death, he was caught speeding in Springfield, Ga., while driving supplies and equipment to Savannah, Ga., for a catering company, Hawk said.

Before that, Wise was cited twice within a few weeks for following too close in cases where he bumped the back of vehicles, but caused no damage.

Since Giles' death, he hit a puddle on a rainy night and bumped into a parked car in the lot of his girlfriend's apartment complex and was given a warning for failing to maintain lane while on the way to breakfast at 4 a.m. on a workday, Hawk said.

Giles' husband said Wise shouldn't be allowed to drive.

"It makes me sick to my stomach to know that somebody else out there could go through the same crap," he said.

He also cited the frustration of the "games" that have gone on since Wise's arrest.

Wise agreed to a plea agreement in August, but withdrew his intent to plead after Judge Jim Blanchard recused himself from the case during the sentencing hearing because he knew some of the witnesses.

Since then, Anthony Nicastro has left the district attorney's office and the case has been transferred to King.

"We believe this is an appropriate resolution," King said.