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Augusta woman acquitted of drunken driving charges

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 1:20 PM
Last updated 10:56 PM
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An Augusta woman walked out of court with a $250 fine Tuesday after she was acquitted, for lack of evidence, on charges of driving drunk with her children in her SUV.

Keena Ware admitted to deputies the night of March 28, 2010, that she had drunk two beers and was halfway through a third, which deputies said they later found in her sport utility vehicle.

She also confessed to bringing her three children, ages 4, 5 and 8, with her on the trip to the store, a deputy testified Tuesday.

But Tuesday’s bench trial – heard before a judge rather than a jury – featured only one witness subpoenaed by Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine and none on behalf of the defense.

Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy Albert Parrish’s testimony established that Ware appeared to be drunk but that he couldn’t prove it because she refused to submit to field sobriety tests or a breath test.

He didn’t see Ware behind the wheel, and the deputy who made the traffic stop wasn’t subpoenaed by the district attorney’s office.

Superior Court Judge Michael Annis asked Parrish several different ways how Ware’s condition would affect her driving, but said at the conclusion of the bench trial that the evidence just didn’t show her condition to be “unsafe.”

“You dodged the bullet today,” said Annis, adding that there was no question Ware was driving drunk.

Annis decided the prosecution had proved only that Ware was driving with an open container, and he gave her the maximum penalty of a $250 fine.

The charges stem from the night Ware was pulled over outside her Hephzibah home on suspicion of DUI. In a tearful statement to deputies, Ware said she knew she shouldn’t have been driving because of her previous DUI convictions.

Those convictions were the crux of why the misdemeanor charges were bumped up to the Superior Court level and tried before a judge. A letter from the Richmond County solicitor general’s office after her arrest last year says Ware had three convictions for DUI since July 1, 2008.

One of those convictions is based on a companion charge of endangering a child while driving under the influence, which, according to state law, is counted separately as a DUI, the letter states.

Ware’s attorney, David Brunk, contested that assertion from the outset, saying that his client had only two DUI convictions.

Three previous convictions makes her latest case a felony DUI charge, which is listed on the indictment. The indictment also accuses Ware of three counts of endangering a child while driving under the influence.

Paine said afterward that she didn’t subpoena the deputy who made the traffic stop because the confession, combined with the testimony by Parrish, should have been enough for a conviction.

Ware refused to comment Tuesday as she walked out of the courtroom.

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Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 11/08/11 - 02:43 pm
0
0
WOW...epic fail. Ms. Ware,

WOW...epic fail.

Ms. Ware, there is a medicine called Antabuse...get some.

Judge Annis...if this lady kills someone when she doesn't take her Antabuse, you may need some anti-depressants.

DA's Office....now you know what you have to have in Judge Annis's courtroom...subpoena the whole damn traffic division if need be.

What a disgrace.

Dixieman
12898
Points
Dixieman 11/08/11 - 03:01 pm
0
0
DA -- PPPPPPP. (Proper Prior

DA -- PPPPPPP. (Proper Prior Planning Prevents [forbidden word] Poor Performance). Don't take cases to trial unless you are prepared!

Michael Ryan
602
Points
Michael Ryan 11/08/11 - 03:12 pm
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0
"said Annis, adding that

"said Annis, adding that there was no question Ware was driving drunk."

Where does "no question" fall on the scale of "reasonable doubt"?

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/08/11 - 03:17 pm
0
0
Judge Annis said there was no

Judge Annis said there was no question she was driving drunk? Then educate me. Why the acquittal?In a bench trial doesn't the judge have the authority to convict? And if so why didn't he? I agree with Austin on this one. If this woman hurts her children or someone else the next time she drives drunk,and there probably WILL be a next time.....we'll all be bemoaning the tragedy. When possibly the tragedy could have been avoided today...

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/11 - 03:27 pm
0
0
I'm assuming Richmond County

I'm assuming Richmond County Deputy Albert Parrish is a booking officer at the jail.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/11 - 03:28 pm
0
0
Judges can get away with

Judges can get away with saying things in court that defendants, lawyers and witnesses cannot.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 11/08/11 - 03:29 pm
0
0
“Assistant District Attorney

“Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine said afterward she didn’t subpoena the deputy who made the traffic stop because the confession, combined with the testimony by Parrish, should have been enough for a conviction.”

Two words, Natalie: Contingency planning.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 11/08/11 - 03:34 pm
0
0
Well, we are all on the same

Well, we are all on the same side with this one. She has had 3 priors so you can bet she will do it again. Let's just pray that the next time she decides to get behind the wheel drunk that she doesn't kill someone. I thought that if they suspected someone and they refused to do the breath test that the officer could make them go get a blood test. She knew what she was doing of course because she is a habitual offender. Shame on judge Annis.

sueboo418
36
Points
sueboo418 11/08/11 - 03:38 pm
0
0
WOW! Just WOW!! Oh you can

WOW! Just WOW!! Oh you can probably bet she will do it again and it will more than likely take someone's life. UNBELIEVABLE!!

happychimer
15922
Points
happychimer 11/08/11 - 03:44 pm
0
0
As I have said in the past,

As I have said in the past, anyone convicted of DUI should lose their license and not ever be able to get it back.

zippy
234
Points
zippy 11/08/11 - 03:51 pm
0
0
I applaud Judge Annis for

I applaud Judge Annis for following the law and the blame should be on the DA. It appears that the DA just half way did her job and the judge courageously required proof of the crime. To understand the judge you have to understand the law. If a driver does not perform the sobriety test then the prosecutor must prove that the driver was in fact less safe to drive as a result of the alcohol in her system. Without proof, no conviction. CONGRATS TO THE JUDGE, BOO TO THE DA. Maybe next time she will present all of the evidence to the court to get a conviction instead of just thinking she has it won. I'm just glad she is not a surgeon.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/08/11 - 03:59 pm
0
0
I'm with you zippy; judges

I'm with you zippy; judges have to follow the LAW, which means sometimes letting the guilty go due to procedural errors and sloppy prosecution. I'm sure it gave Judge Annis indigestion to to the right thing, but the DA did a poor job.
This woman will kill somebody sooner or later. I hope they wrap her up in a tight little bundle if caught again.

T.More
200
Points
T.More 11/08/11 - 04:09 pm
0
0
Judge Annis is to be

Judge Annis is to be commended for following the standard of reasonable doubt instead of doing what is politically expedient. The State was held to the burden of proof required under the law. The fact that there is an attempt to sensationalize his comments after the verdict was rendered is a shame. Bottom-line is the State goofed, not the Judge who followed the law and evidentiary rules in place. Direct your anger at the State for "letting someone off." If it was that easy to secure a conviction, why even bother with courts, judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. Just have the police officer lock them up and tell society that they do not need to ask any questions. Because we should all surrender our Constitutional Rights based on speculation and conjecture. We should just all sign up for the political ethos that the government and those doing its bidding are always right.

zippy
234
Points
zippy 11/08/11 - 04:16 pm
0
0
T.More-----amen!

T.More-----amen!

GodisSoGood
813
Points
GodisSoGood 11/08/11 - 04:27 pm
0
0
it's easy to throw stones at

it's easy to throw stones at Judge Annis who simply applied the laws. The shame should fall on the shoulders of the driver. Just as with the OJ lawyers playing the race card, or Kaycee Anthony being set free....the law doesn't always seem fair, but it is what it is. Reasonable doubt does not always equate with what we think should be fair judgement. I agree this driver's license should be revoked FOREVER. However, there are people who drive even with no license...I've known a few in my lifetime.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 11/08/11 - 04:30 pm
0
0
No doubt the Asst. DA screwed

No doubt the Asst. DA screwed up here...but this was the girl's 4th DUI arrest in THREE YEARS. How about a little creativity from the Judge?

How about mandatory alcohol treatment...a DFACS investigation for child endangerment...how about a mistrail declared on a technicality so the asst. can get her act together in a way that fits his honor?

But hey...he followed the law...when she drinks and drives again, we can put that on the tombstone of the person she kills.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/08/11 - 04:32 pm
0
0
Again. Educate me. When Judge

Again. Educate me. When Judge Annis said he was sure she was driving drunk, didn't that prove the prosecution HAD proved their case?

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 11/08/11 - 04:37 pm
0
0
He should have pulled a Jim

He should have pulled a Jim Carrey...gone to the bathroom and faked a beating...ANYTHING to get another witness in the courtrrom. Geebus.

Little Lamb
43826
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/11 - 04:49 pm
0
0
Corporal Gripweed, please

Corporal Gripweed, please re-read my 2:28 p.m. post.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/08/11 - 04:51 pm
0
0
Read it. But if he knows the

Read it. But if he knows the facts to be proven shouldn't he rule accordingly?

zippy
234
Points
zippy 11/08/11 - 04:51 pm
0
0
austin....you are suggesting

austin....you are suggesting that a sitting judge actually BE DISHONEST in to "do the right thing"...all of which would actully violate the Constitution of the United States....the very document that guarantees our freedom?

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/08/11 - 05:03 pm
0
0
What if you were falsely

What if you were falsely charged with something? Would you want the judge to look the other way on sloppy prosecution, or make sure they had followed the law in prosecuting you? You have to protect the rights of the guilty to ensure protection of the rights of the innocent.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 11/08/11 - 05:59 pm
0
0
I believe a Superior Court

I believe a Superior Court Judge has the discretion and authority to do MANY things other than what Judge Annis did. I know this because the person who chewed my ear off about this for 25 minutes this afternoon is a Superior Court Judge.

dstewartsr
20388
Points
dstewartsr 11/08/11 - 05:49 pm
0
0
Prosecutorial over-reach and

Prosecutorial over-reach and under preparation. No fan of this particular judge, but he got this one right; as the Japanese are wont to say, "The law may overturn reason, but reason may not break the law." Nor wishes or sentiment, either.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 11/08/11 - 06:00 pm
0
0
How is it "over reach" to

How is it "over reach" to prosecute a person for DUI who admitted drinking, had alcohol in the car, and refused all testing?

shrimp for breakfast
5422
Points
shrimp for breakfast 11/08/11 - 06:04 pm
0
0
I can't add anything that

I can't add anything that hasn't already been said except:

Judge: Good
DA: Bad
Ware: Darlin' you better get some help before you kill someone, your kids or yourself.

augusta citizen
8638
Points
augusta citizen 11/08/11 - 06:06 pm
0
0
Right Austin, how is it "over

Right Austin, how is it "over reach"? Her confession should have been enough. I haven't read that she recanted it, so that should have been all that was needed.

augusta citizen
8638
Points
augusta citizen 11/08/11 - 06:09 pm
0
0
Can they dock this Asst. DA's

Can they dock this Asst. DA's wages to pay for the wasted taxpayer's money to try this unprepared case? Oh wait, silly me, only people in the private sector have to actually pay for their mistakes, government employees have a pass. Hope she learned from this though and is always extra prepared in the future.

Willow Bailey
20579
Points
Willow Bailey 11/08/11 - 07:15 pm
0
0
This case makes a case for

This case makes a case for refusal to cooperate with sobriety testing.

I sure hope she doesn't kill her children, or yours or mine.

T.More
200
Points
T.More 11/08/11 - 07:16 pm
0
0
One commentator above

One commentator above encouraged the Judge to do "ANYTHING" and that there were "MANY things other than what Judge Annis did." Like what? Should have he abandoned his role as a neutral arbitrator to become a political hack as indicated by your anonymous Superior Court judge that chewed your ear off for half an hour? Who is wasting taxpayer dollars now? Should he have abandoned the Constitution of the United States and the State of Georgia? Should he have taken his oath of office lightly? Maybe you are suggesting that he should have declared a mistrial after jeopardy had attached, which would have guaranteed an appeal and further waste of taxpayer dollars. Maybe you are suggesting that he should have found guilt despite the failures of the DA's Office. Maybe you are suggesting something even more sinister and unethical. Although you espouse conservative views, it sounds like you would encourage a sitting judge to turn away from the law and his oath of office. How about you simply say, "Well done Judge Annis, good and faithful servant of justice." Instead you are asking him to abuse his power and authority. “Power without justice is tyranny.” Again, well done Judge Annis, do not let a shock jock sway you from doing justice and upholding your oath.

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