Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Jerry Falwell's Liberty U Alum Convicted of Hit-and-Run
Thanks to YH for the heads-up!
Lynchburg, VA. - A former Liberty University student convicted of running over a woman on the Lynchburg Expressway and leaving the scene will serve nine months in jail on work release.
Lynchburg Circuit Judge Leyburn Mosby affirmed Friday the jury’s decision that Mary Elizabeth Miller, 22, serve nine months in jail.
However, he allowed Miller to serve the time on work release, which means she will be permitted to leave the jail and work at InService America in Forest from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. She must spend each night and every weekend in jail.
An InService America employee testified that Miller had already been interviewed and that several people at the company, including the chief executive officer, knew Miller and her family. Miller’s job would be in the call center, which supports ministries and other nonprofit organizations.
Mosby also ordered Miller pay the jury-recommended $1,500 fine and added an additional six months in jail, but suspended that time.
Lynchburg police found the body of Renee Annette Osborne Jones, 36, a married mother of three teenagers, in the southbound lanes of the Expressway between the Grace and Kemper street exits just after 1 a.m. May 13, 2004.
Jones’ husband, Troy, told police that he and Renee had been drinking and smoking marijuana that night and had decided to go to a local restaurant. However, Renee became loud and Troy decided not to go to the restaurant because she might get in trouble. Renee, upset with the decision, demanded to be let out of the car.
When Troy Jones returned 20 minutes later, she was dead.
Police received a tip about Miller in November and later linked her to the accident through car debris found at the scene and statements she made to police.
In court Friday, the judge said he had thought about the case since the trial in July.
“I’m neither Solomon or Moses,” Mosby said. “I’m convinced that there was more than enough responsibility to go around. I’m also convinced by the physical evidence that you weren’t the first to strike her. I’m convinced that you did run over her foot and leg.”
A tractor-trailer also ran over Miller that night, but the driver stopped and called police, telling them he could not avoid Jones’ already dead body.
Miller decided to report to jail Friday rather than Sept. 26, as the judge said she could.
Miller’s Roanoke defense attorney, David Damico, had asked the judge to consider reducing the jury’s recommendation, which the judge has the power to do, or letting Miller return home with her parents to Texas where her pastor father would work with her.
Damico also introduced several letters from people who wrote that Miller had changed for the better since the accident.
On the stand, Miller testified that she has not driven a car since she was arrested in April.
“I’m very sorry for what has all happened. I know now I should have called the police,” she said.
When asked by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Felmlee if she ever thought about Jones, Miller replied, “I think it was a horrible accident. I’m sorry to the family … I’m sorry they had to lose their mom. I showed no remorse before because I never knew I ran over anything.”
Outside the courthouse, several members of Jones’ family said they were happy the judge imposed the active jail term, but disappointed Miller will be allowed work release.
“Renee’s gone forever,” husband Troy Jones said. “Nothing will bring her back.”
See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.
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