Jacksonville man convicted of DUI manslaughter in crash that led to his friend's death

January 24, 2013

A Jacksonville jury found a man guilty of DUI manslaughter in Duval County in connection with a 2010 crash that killed his 21-year-old friend. Klay Williams was found guilty last week of the second-degree felony and will be sentenced in March, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Williams, 22, faces up to 15 years in prison. Police said Williams was speeding in his pickup truck when he hit a fence and pieces of that shattered fence hit Mitchell Curtis Green in the head, the newspaper reported.

A neighbor and the first paramedic said they both talked to Williams outside of the truck, who said he was fine but made no mention of Green being unconscious inside the truck, the newspaper reported. The neighbor then looked in and saw Green, who was treated by paramedics but died a week later. Williams' blood-alcohol level came back at .17 - more than double the legal limit of .08.

Jacksonville DUI cases are almost always misdemeanor cases, but when people are seriously injured or killed by an intoxicated driver, that driver then faces Duval County felony charges. There are varying levels of misdemeanors crimes, but the overarching point from a defendant's perspective is the maximum time someone can be incarcerated for if convicted of a misdemeanor is one year in the county jail. The state prison system is only for people who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to felonies in Florida.

Williams is now subject to that system because he was convicted of DUI manslaughter, or a DUI that caused a death. Because police were investigating an injury, Williams did not have a choice as to whether or not police could test his blood for alcohol. That's another rule that changes dramatically for a DUI investigation once an injury is involved. Someone pulled over under suspicion of a DUI can refuse to take a breathalyzer test and can also refuse to take field sobriety exercises. Now, that will pretty much guarantee the suspect in that Jacksonville DUI case one night in the county jail, but could limit the damage going forward.

There was really no debating whether Williams was intoxicated and the fact that police said he didn't initially try to help his injured friend likely did not play well to the jury in his Jacksonville Driving Under the Influence case. Expect that piece to also play a role in Williams' sentencing hearing coming up in March. Judges are often concerned about how remorseful someone is after the fact, but also put plenty of weight into how a person reacted immediately after the crash took place.

Our Jacksonville DUI attorney has represented hundreds of clients charged with DUI - from routine traffic stops to crashes resulting in felony charges similar to the above case. If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.