On May 22, 2015, an SUV was headed eastbound on the East Lamar Alexander Parkway. It then crossed over into the westbound lanes and struck four motorcycles. Two people died and four others suffered a variety of injuries. The Tennessee woman driving the SUV on that day was recently sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison on two counts of vehicular homicide and other charges that were part of a plea agreement reached through negotiations between her criminal defense counsel and prosecutors.
Reportedly, the Tennessee woman was under the influence of marijuana, a sedative and other drugs on the day of the accident. Victims and their family members testified at the woman's sentencing hearing about the newlyweds who were killed and the trauma suffered by the other victims and how it affects them and their families daily. Thereafter, the judge sentenced the woman to 8.5 years in prison for each of the two deaths, which sentences will run consecutively (back to back). The sentences for the other charges will run concurrently (at the same time) as those sentences.
The woman will serve a minimum of 30 percent of the total 17-year sentence before she is eligible for parole. Even though the judge is not authorized to speak for the parole board, she told the woman that it is unlikely she will receive parole the first time she is eligible. In addition to prison time, the woman's driver's license was revoked for five years, she will be required to pay $400 in fines (plus court costs) and will receive approximately one month credit for time served last year.
Sometimes it is better to reach an agreement with at least some guarantee regarding the penalties than to risk the uncertainty of a jury verdict. Considering the circumstances of this case, a plea agreement was apparently preferred over going to trial. When the physical evidence, witness statements and victim impact statements were taken into account, going to trial for the vehicular homicide charges alone could have resulted in higher penalties and more prison time.
Source: thedailytimes.com, "Walland woman sentenced to 17 years in fatal crash that left two motorcyclists dead", Amy Beth Miller, Sept. 17, 2016