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Driver in fatal 2010 wreck sentenced to prison in Richmond County

Driver gets 15 years in prison

Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:31 PM
Last updated 11:30 PM
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An Evans man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide for a 2010 wreck that killed a Grovetown woman.

Daniel Morales, 40, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a woman in a November 2010 car wreck.  VALERIE ROWELL/STAFF
VALERIE ROWELL/STAFF
Daniel Morales, 40, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a woman in a November 2010 car wreck.


Daniel Edwin Morales, 40, pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide related to reckless driving and serious injury by vehicle in connection to the November 2010 wreck in which Phyllis Autry, 54, died and her husband, Paul Autry, was seriously injured.

Superior Court Judge J. David Roper sentenced Morales to 15 years in prison followed by 15 years of probation, per a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.

“I apologize with all my heart,” Morales told Autry’s family at the hearing. “I’ve wished so many times that I could have taken her place.”

About 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2010, the Autrys were driving east on Washington Road near Blanchard Road when Morales hit them head-on. He was driving between 74 and 94 mph on the wrong side of the road.

“There were many, many injuries,” Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus said, adding that the Autrys both had to be extricated from the wreckage. “It was chaos out there that day.”

Morales’ Volkswagen ricocheted into another truck, where the driver and passenger were not injured.

He was indicted on nine charges including vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence of drugs, reckless driving and driving too fast for conditions.

Phyllis Autry died at the hospital from blunt-force injuries, including a torn aorta. Her husband was seriously injured, sustaining numerous fractures. He is still unable to walk and requires more surgeries.

Paul Autry spoke at the sentencing hearing, where he asked Roper to give Morales the maximum 30-year prison sentence.

“My (physical) pain is nothing,” he said. “Phyllis was more than my wife, she was my hero. ... She was my best friend. When she died, I died.”

The couple would have celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary three days after the wreck.

Morales’ attorney, Pete Theodocion, said that though Morales had marijuana and amphetamines in his system at the time of the wreck, drugs did not impair his driving. Because he’d stayed up late the night before, Theodocion said, Morales fell asleep at the wheel.

“He shouldn’t have been behind the wheel in that state,” Theodocion said, adding that Morales takes responsibility for the wreck by agreeing to the plea.

As part of the plea agreement, he will pay Paul Autry restitution above and beyond what medical costs his insurance company would cover. That amount will be determined at a later hearing.

Morales was originally released on bond. He was arrested and held without bond in September 2011, when he was arrested for driving about 100 mph while under the influence on Interstate 20.

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my.voice
5167
Points
my.voice 05/17/12 - 03:29 pm
2
1
"Morales’ attorney, Pete

"Morales’ attorney, Pete Theodocion, said that though Morales had marijuana and amphetamines in his system at the time of the wreck, drugs did not impair his driving"

"“He shouldn’t have been behind the wheel in that state,” Theodocion said, adding that Morales takes responsibility for the wreck by agreeing to the plea. "

Someone needs their head examined.

r
409
Points
r 05/17/12 - 04:17 pm
0
0
Arrest A Less Than Year Later

How sorry are you and what did you learn when you repeated the same behavior that killed one person, basically crippled another and who knows how many peoples lives you affected and 10 months later you get caught again!! No telling how many uncaught times. H)ow sorry could he have felt!!!!

boodroe
1980
Points
boodroe 05/17/12 - 07:51 pm
0
0
Theodocian The Man?

While attornies such as Pete Theodocian are needed I abhor the fact He has a bunch of lowlife clients. He could practice some other form of law and not be a defense lawyer

HighSociety
1841
Points
HighSociety 05/17/12 - 09:01 pm
0
0
Glad to see the long

Glad to see the long sentence.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/18/12 - 09:14 am
0
0
He will have plenty of time

He will have plenty of time to feel sorry for his actions and hopefully when he gets out he will see things different. Hope for all of us on the road that he does. @My.Voice, those drugs can stay in your system for 30 days so that is probably what he was refering to, that he had them in his system but had not done them prior to the wreck but that still isn't an excuse for what he did. Even if he did not have them in his system he was still wreckless.

itsanotherday1
48270
Points
itsanotherday1 05/18/12 - 09:35 am
0
0
I think "he should't have

I think "he should't have been driving in that state" was in reference to the claim he was tired from being up late.

I could have ginned up some empathy for the guy under the premise he fell asleep at the wheel and sped up. Then I read where he was popped running 100 AFTER this incident.

He deserves what he got.

sadsister
4
Points
sadsister 05/18/12 - 09:59 am
0
0
Actually, according to his

Actually, according to his own wife's testimony, they had been out drinking until about 4:30 THAT morning, they had both smoked some pot and he had taken adderol that was not prescribed to him. Because of his (and her) thoughtlessness I will never see my only sister again. The last time I touched her was not to get a hug, but to fix her hair and makeup so that she could be placed in a casket.

realitycheck09
312
Points
realitycheck09 05/18/12 - 01:07 pm
0
1
Boodroe - I bet if you are

Boodroe - I bet if you are ever arrested or accused of anything (especially something you didn't do) you'll be glad there are lowlife defense lawyers out there.

boodroe
1980
Points
boodroe 05/18/12 - 05:10 pm
0
0
Lowlife defense Lawyers

I don't do things that would be put me in a position to be charged with killing people cause I am drunk nor do I take drugs. The people who Theodocian defends deserve a defense but they are not innocent people who were framed

realitycheck09
312
Points
realitycheck09 05/18/12 - 09:10 pm
0
1
boodroe - my point is that

boodroe - my point is that you don't "get it." By defending guilty people - like this guy - defense attorneys help all of us.

And to your "I don't do things..." point, the next totally innocent person to be arrested and accused of a crime will NOT be the first totally innocent person arrested and accused of a crime. So, it absolutely could be you. You'll be glad for "lowlife defense attorneys" then.

my.voice
5167
Points
my.voice 05/19/12 - 08:57 am
0
0
Realitycheck I think you

Realitycheck I think you really do need a reality check. I'm with boodroe on this 1000 percent. Theodocian is a menace to the legal system. His comments are just nuts.

sadsister
4
Points
sadsister 05/19/12 - 06:39 pm
0
0
Geoffrey Fogus and Judge

Geoffrey Fogus and Judge Roper are "the men"

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